Everyone grieves in their own way. Rather than seek comfort from siblings, one daughter may withdraw from family interaction, or another may pick fights. Sometimes, sons will have tense relationships even when both parents are alive. Even with positive family chemistry, things can change when a parent dies. Parents can minimize the stress and strain during a difficult time by drafting a clear estate plan.
Talk about the plan
Many families do not talk about money, but this can be a mistake regarding estate planning. Parents can reduce conflicts by discussing important details like their choices of executor and how they divided the estate. Doing so ahead of time while you are still alive enables you to explain your choices, leaving less room for children to argue over what you decide.
Pick the right executor
Parents have many reasons for picking their executor, but choosing the right one involves several variables. The right person for the job should have:
- Strong communication skills
- The ability to make good decisions under duress
- The time to do the important work necessary to close the estate
- The ability to understand and execute administrative duties
Be fair and equitable
Nothing causes more acrimony than appearing to favor one child over the others. While significant assets like a house may be challenging to divide unless they sell it, one sibling may want the house, or all want to share a vacation property. The parent can value that property and balance the inheritance using other desired assets or cash. Again, make these decisions after consulting with family members.
Depending upon circumstances, parents may even want to gift certain assets while still alive, giving them a chance to explain their decision and enjoy the pleasure of giving to loved ones.
Legal guidance is often helpful
It is often best to work with an experienced estate law attorney. They can help draft a valid estate plan that holds up in court and guide families through the probate process and paperwork. They can also provide an impartial presence for addressing disputes and finding legal and binding solutions.