When it comes to planning your estate, the one thing you want to do is avoid disputes. The last thing you want is to have your family fighting over your plan once you're gone. After all, the whole point of the estate plan is to prevent family squabbles over what you've left behind. Unfortunately, even with the most iron-clad estate plan, families can still end up fighting over your estate, especially when they don't understand how you arrived at the plan you left. Here are four steps you can take to help avoid those last minute family squabbles over your estate.
Create Your Estate Plan Now
If you want to help avoid squabbles once you're gone, the best thing you can do is create your estate plan now. Having an estate plan in place early will reduce your loved ones chances of disputing the validity of the plans you've made. For instance, waiting until you're older could make it seem like you weren't quite capable of reaching your own decisions, or that someone coerced you into dividing your assets the way you did. However, creating an estate plan early enough helps ensure that it's in effect long enough to avoid those types of disputes.
Discuss Your Plan
Once you create your estate plan, it's important that you discuss it with your family. Sit down as a family and discuss everything that's in your plan, including how things will be divided, and why you've chosen to divide things up that way. If you won't be dividing things evenly, explain why you've reached the decisions you've made. Involving your family members in the estate plans, and explaining the decisions you've made can reduce the chances of hurt feelings once you're gone.
Divide Personal Effects Early
If you know that there will be disputes over your personal effects after you're gone, take the time to divide them up early. Talk to each family member and give them the opportunity to let you know about the things that they would like to have of yours. Once you know what your loved ones would like to have, document those choices in your will.
Conduct Routine Updates
Circumstances can change after you have your estate planning established. Children and grandchildren may be born, and people may get married or divorced. You want to make sure that those changes are addressed in your final documents. To avoid disputes and complications, it's important to update your estate each time there is a life-changing event in the family.
For assistance in creating your estate plan, reach out to an estate planning lawyer.