Some siblings will find any reason to fight, and a parent’s estate is no exception. At Ball Morse Lowe, we know how effective estate planning can prevent rivalries among heirs from starting. When you take the appropriate measures, you can minimize conflict and ensure that your survivors know what to expect at your passing.
The American Association of Individual Investors advises that above all, children should be treated as equally as possible when you are determining who will inherit assets. Though it may be unintentional, leaving more to one child may imply favoritism and start a feud between brothers and sisters. The AAII warns that even though one child may make less money or be worse off financially than another child, it is dangerous to compensate for those shortcomings in an estate plan. The child who is seemingly more successful may feel slighted or resent his or her sibling.
The AAII offers a number of other tips for preventing conflict among children, such as the following:
- Make plans for your end-of-life medical decisions and funeral ahead of time so surviving children do not need to fight with each other about what your wishes may have been.
- Keep your estate plan updated to include all children and grandchildren or make alterations based on life changes.
- Let your children know about your plans, including any fiduciary appointments.
Speaking to your children about your plans and the probate process gives them the chance to ask questions and allows you the opportunity to explain your decisions and prevent claims of undue influence. The AAII advises that people creating estate plans should make logically defensible choices. For example, naming the eldest child as a fiduciary may make more sense to everyone involved because of the natural pecking order.