It’s the last legacy you want to leave behind: a fight over your estate. And for a family that’s dealing with the grief of a lost loved one, these arguments can tear relationships apart. Avoiding fights over inheritance is one of the primary goals of solid estate planning, but you’ll never be able to do it if you don’t know anything about estate planning – or you simply ignore your relationships with the aim of making more money.
So what’s the secret? Let’s look at it from two perspectives: estate planning (for the person leaving behind inheritance) and inheriting (for the person who’s lost a loved one).
Leaving Behind a Clear Inheritance
One of the main contributors to problems over inheritance is an income estate plan or will. While you might feel fine leaving all of your money to one trusted son or daughter, you have to remember that doing so can be potentially problematic and lead to jealousy and resentment among some of your other children. That’s not to say you can’t do what you want with your money and property – but you will have to put some thought into your estate planning if you want to leave behind a peaceful legacy.
How do you do this? Simple: be upfront and clear about your estate. Don’t be afraid to leave money behind as you see fit – people who get upset that you didn’t give them enough money are revealing their own superficiality. Just be clear in your will and make sure that your lawyer understands all of your wishes when they put everything down in writing. You’ll be amazed at the peace of mind this can win you.
If a loved one has passed and you now have to deal with an unclear will (or even the absence of a will, which is more often the problem), fighting for money you legally might deserve might be an important priority to you. But you have to weigh what this fight will do to your relationships with other loved ones. In many cases, families are close enough together that they won’t quibble over inheritance and the way it was doled out. But just because some families succeed doesn’t mean yours automatically will.
The secret to avoiding legal entanglements in this case is to pay attention to the law: the more you fight for something that is not legally yours, the more problems you’re going to cause. If you realize that you don’t have a strong claim to more property than you legally deserve, you’ll save yourself – and the people around you – a lot of worry and heartache.
Will these secrets always help you avoid fights? Not necessarily; in some cases, fighting for your inheritance can be a good thing, keeping money in the family. But be sure that you understand that you can’t buy a good relationship with the rest of your family. It’s that distinction that will help you understand where your priorities are.