Sibling disputes are common when looking at issues that occur after a parent has passed away. The good news about these disputes is that they can be avoided with some foresight by the parent or parents who are creating the estate plan.
Most parents have an idea about how their children will act following their death. However, if you’re not sure about your children or want to make sure one child doesn’t cause a problem for the others, then you will want to take steps to protect their interests and your estate ahead of time.
What are some strategies that parents can use to help their children avoid disputes over an estate?
There are several possible strategies including:
- Expressing their wishes fully in a will
- Giving gifts during their lifetime
- Using an executor or trustee who is not a sibling
- Setting up trusts for their children
For example, if a parent knows that their children compete and are rivals, they may set up equal trusts for them. With this, there is no way to argue who was intended to receive the assets from the estate, since each trust is managed separately. Similarly, giving assets to children during life makes it clear whom they’re for, so that the others will not be able to seek what you’d like to leave to one child in particular.
Our parents died, and now we’re arguing over the estate. What can we do?
After your parents pass away, a good option for feuding siblings is to go to mediation. A mediator will help you talk through any disputes that you are having.
Some other alternatives include splitting the proceeds from the estate after liquidating the assets or seeking help from your attorneys, who can negotiate and help you come up with a reasonable solution.
Estate planning should happen before death, because it can prevent many of the arguments and disagreements that could take place after a parent dies. Not every family ends up going through disputes, but when money is involved along with hurt feelings and grief, there is a potential for arguments.
Parents should sit down and take the time to talk about their estate plan with their children. Doing this can help them all understand what their parents’ preferences are and give them an idea of what to expect when their parents do pass away. Communication is key to prevent unnecessary fighting.