Conflict, arguments and differences of opinion are a basic part of being in a family. Siblings often playfully fight with one another and sometimes have deep-seated resentment toward each other because of things that happened decades ago.
If you know that your children are prone to have conflicts, you may have every reason to worry that they will fight when it comes time for them to handle your estate after you die. The good news is that with careful estate planning, you may be able to reduce conflict among your heirs.
Being careful about fairness in your approach can help
For some people with multiple children who are worried about conflict, the simplest way to avoid fighting is to strive for fairness in their estate plan. For many families, fairness involves equally splitting the value of an estate between children and specifically designating certain assets with emotional value to different children, possibly even making gifts of them while you’re still alive.
However, that approach doesn’t always work. Sometimes, one child may need more help than the others or you need to disinherit one because of behavioral problems, addiction or crime. Uneven inheritance has unfortunately often lead to conflict during estate administration.
Make sure everyone knows what to expect
Whether you split everything equally or hand out assets depending on the relationship you have with your children, being transparent about your intentions and upfront about who will get what while you are still alive can prevent them from challenging your state out of shock or disappointment. When everybody knows what to expect, they are less likely to feel angry when they read your will.
You might even add a clause to penalize challenges
If you know that someone in your family is very likely to challenge your estate because they aren’t happy with it, you can take steps to prevent that from happening. Including a no-contest clause in your estate plan can effectively disinherit someone for challenging your will.
Discussing your family circumstances and desired legacy with an estate planning attorney can give you more ideas about what might help reduce conflict in your family after you die.