How can I prevent my estate plan from ruining my family?

Whether you are an elderly person, mortally ill or just getting an early start on your estate planning, the last thing you want to worry about is how your assets can divide your family. It is fairly common for families in Ohio to face extreme tension over who should get what when someone passes, even when a will clearly states the deceased’s intentions. Suddenly, deep-seated resentments rise up and family members are at each other’s throats.

CNBC notes that when families are blended or fractured, disputes may become even more likely. Some siblings may become accidentally disinherited or may resent that some got more than the others. So, what can you do to ensure that the assets you leave behind bring family members together rather than tear them apart? There is no foolproof plan, because you have no idea how people will react until the day comes. Even so, there are some best practices you can follow.

The first is having an actual estate plan in place and the second is investing in a trust. Many people rely on personal accounts with designated beneficiaries and then state laws to make decisions about distribution. This is exactly how a lot of beneficiaries get disinherited. It also creates room for selfish parties to manipulate the situation to their advantage.

Here are some additional tactics to help reduce family tensions:

  • There is no need to divulge all the details, but be transparent with beneficiaries about the general plans in place.
  • Use family meetings to discuss the basics of the plan, especially if some parties need to play specific roles in its execution.
  • Choose independent trustees, such as a bank, instead of family members.

If you are open and honest with family members about what they can expect from your estate plan, they may be less likely to take each other to court over it. There really is no guarantee that this will prevent disputes. However, a proper estate plan at least ensures no one has a legitimate reason to contest its provisions, such as being accidentally disinherited.

This article provides information on estate planning. It should not be misconstrued as or used in place of legal or financial advice.