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How you can prevent your kids from battling over your estate

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Your adult children’s sibling rivalries and their days of digging each other’s graves in the backyard and trying to drown each other in the family pool are all behind them. Now they’re mature people who get along beautifully – at least as far as you know. 

As you develop your estate plan, however, you can’t assume the old sibling rivalries won’t return if someone doesn’t feel like they got a fair deal. One wealth planning professional notes that “money has a way of making old wounds come back and creating new ones.” If your kids have never been close or if those “old wounds” have never healed, it’s even more crucial to take care when dividing your assets among them.

It’s not just an imbalance in the inheritances that can create a problem. Sometimes an imbalance is warranted for any number of reasons. Other issues can create problems – from who gets an inexpensive piece of jewelry that’s been handed down for generations to what to do with the family home.

That’s why it’s crucial to make your wishes as clear and detailed as possible in your estate plan. This way, your kids don’t have to fight amongst themselves. 

Talk with your children

Don’t just wait for them to find out what’s in your estate plan until you’re gone. Gather them together and tell them yourself before you finalize it. It’s important that they know what your thought process is and that you haven’t been unduly influenced by one of them (or someone else). Let them ask questions. Find out if there’s something one of them particularly wants or something (like a home, boat or vintage car) that it turns out no one wants.

Appoint strong, objective representatives

If you have more than one adult child, it’s typically best not to make one of them the executor of your estate or a trustee of a trust. It’s usually best to appoint a friend or colleague who doesn’t have close emotional ties to the family and can stand up to all of your kids and other beneficiaries if necessary.

It’s also a good idea to introduce your kids to the financial and legal professionals with whom you’re working on your estate plan. This can help demonstrate that you have faith in them to handle their inheritances maturely and that there are knowledgeable people available to help them.