You want to leave behind a legacy of success for your children and grandchildren. You want them to know what the family means to you. You hope that they will all stay close, even after you are gone. Nothing means more to you than knowing that your family is safe, happy, healthy and together.
But is your legacy actually going to be the opposite? Are you going to divide your family? Without a proper estate plan, there is certainly the chance that could happen.
What types of disputes could arise?
The best thing you can do is to create an estate plan. Failing to do so is the one thing that makes it most likely that your heirs will wind up in expensive, lengthy disputes after your passing. If this happens, those wounds may never heal. Children who get engaged in a legal battle may never even speak to each other again.
One thing that can help is to make that plan early and then talk with your heirs about what it entails. This is especially true if you are not planning to leave equal bequests to everyone. Tell the heirs in advance so that they can talk to you, voice concerns and hear your reasoning. If they find out after you pass away, they can resent their heirs who got more — even though it’s not their fault — and there’s no way to ask you why you did what you did.
Another thing that helps is to discuss what should be done with sentimental items. Don’t assume that something is important just because it has little monetary value. Some estate disputes cost far more than the assets in question are worth, but it all becomes an emotional process where the heirs want something that means a lot to them, even if they couldn’t sell it for any amount worth talking about. Include these kinds of items in your plan to avoid this type of dispute.
Focusing on your family’s future
To leave the type of legacy you’ve always wanted, take the time to consider all of your legal options and what they mean for the future of your family.