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Avoiding Costly Family Inheritance Disputes

 

Many people believe that their will is enough to prevent a family inheritance dispute; however, a will can change over time, the assets can change over time, and the beneficiaries can also change over time. When this happens, family inheritance disputes can break out. This can seriously damage the important relationships between family members and leave lasting scars.

Therefore, everyone should take the time to work with an attorney in order to create a thoughtful estate plan. This process will help to ensure that there aren't any unnecessary disagreements over the inheritance. Regardless of the size of an estate, there are a few easy steps that everyone can take to ensure that the relationships between family members and their inheritance aren't damaged in the process.

 

Procrastination Will Hurt

Nobody likes to think about the end; however, starting early is always a smart decision. Many people's health deteriorates rapidly and it is difficult to set up an estate plan when someone's health has declined. Therefore, starting early will put an estate plan in place while someone's mind is still clear. Once people's health starts to go downhill, they will want to focus all of their efforts and energy on getting better instead of worrying about what is going to happen to their assets. Furthermore, if an estate plan is put in place while someone is sick, someone could raise questions regarding someone's ability to accurately execute an estate plan at that time. Don't let this happen… start early.

Take the Necessary Steps to Avoid Probate

Probate court is a place where assets go if their destination remains unspecified. This is a complicated and costly process that could lead to a smaller inheritance for the intended beneficiaries. Many estate plans will include a revocable living trust that can help keep assets out of probate court. A revocable living trust is only one of several different types of trusts that estate plans can use to both avoid probate court and possibly remove some assets from the overall value of an estate, reducing the damage from the estate tax.

Explain the Reasons for Choosing the Beneficiaries

Sometimes, the assets aren't divided up evenly among the beneficiaries. It is important that the owner of the estate explain the reason why the assets aren't being divided evenly. While this could be an emotionally difficult process, this will help to clear up any question marks and anticipate any disagreements that could develop. In this situation, it is best for the owner to use their own language and use detailed language to explain the decision process. This reduces the chances of a lawsuit developing on the other side.

This is only a brief overview of the challenging estate planning process. A successful estate plan is continuously managed by a dedicated legal team. Anyone with questions or concerns regarding the estate planning process should contact an experienced legal professional for assistance. 

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Dunlap & Seeger, P.A.
30 3rd Street SE
Rochester, MN 55904

Toll Free: 800-636-2689
Phone: 507-316-0628
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