Are you interested in reducing the odds of an estate dispute and making the probate process go more smoothly for your heirs? The first step is to do your estate planning, of course. A proper estate plan can help avoid many issues that heirs face when they have to make decisions on their own. Beyond that, though, one of the most important things you can do is simply to talk to your heirs about the plan as you make it.
The importance of open communication
Experts note that how much you tell your children depends on your specific family dynamics, and you have to take those in to account. However, it is still wise to discuss at least some aspects of the plan in nearly every case. Even if you’re disinheriting someone, it can help to tell them in advance that they won’t be included in the plan. Heirs who are getting expensive assets or sentimental items that may cause a dispute should be told what they are going to receive.
There are two main benefits to having these conversations. First, you allow your heirs to tell you what they want and to temper their expectations. Many people who have a problem with a loved one’s estate plan after they’re gone simply expected something other than what it provides.
The second benefit is that family members can take up disputes and complaints with you while you’re around. Say two heirs want the same item. If they find out who got it after you pass away, they may fight over it. If they find out when they can talk to you about it, they know what you legitimately desire and the odds of a dispute are lower — even if they’re still not happy with your decision.
If you’re thinking about all of this as you do your estate planning, take the time to explore all of the options. An experienced estate planning attorney can help.