“There’s no such thing as a good time for a family fight, but one of the worst is after a death.”
A recent Ameriprise Financial survey of 2,700 people, found that a quarter of the respondents said an inheritance caused disagreement or tension within the family.
Newsday’s recent article, “Report: Inheritance causes tension in 25% of families,” shares some ideas on how to keep the peace.
Memorialize your wishes in writing! This is absolutely the most important strategy for avoiding a family feud at the death of yourself or a loved one.
You need to make sure that you have the proper estate planning documents in place, drafted by an experienced estate planning attorney. The most important of these is a will, which documents your wishes and intentions concerning your assets. It also appoints fiduciaries with instructions to carry out your wishes.
In addition, consider these other notions:
- Avoid family rivalries. Don’t leave your lake home to be divided between two siblings who don’t get along. Instead, direct that the cabin be sold. You can also just bequeath it to the one who enjoyed it the most and make things equal in the estate with other assets.
- Play hard ball. Add a no-contest provision in your documents, so if anyone contests your estate plan, they will lose their inheritance.
- Use insurance as a tool. An insurance policy with a designated beneficiary is a smart way to make a gift to someone and won’t be challenged easily.
You should also try to manage expectations, which means discussion. If you engage in some specific conversations with your family about your plans, it’ll go a long way in preserving family harmony at your death.
Be certain that there are no surprises or disappointments.