Disputes between siblings, after a parent passes away, are often the main thing that parent wants to avoid. What they care about, more than anything else, is their family. They do not want some fight over money or assets to make it so that children never speak again. They know it happens. They don’t want it to happen to their family.
What can they do? Do they just have to hope things work out and that no estate disputes arise? Certainly not. There are steps they can take in advance to prevent this outcome. Here are four of them.
1. Talk to the children before they pass away
Telling children what to expect as an inheritance, before they get it, can stop disputes entirely. Many times, these disputes revolve around children who think their parents wanted to give them more or to give them specific assets. They feel that other siblings cheated them out of it. When parents express their wishes in advance, perhaps in a family meeting, everyone knows what they want and what to expect.
2. Do not choose one sibling as the executor of the will
Putting one child in charge of the estate, as the executor, sounds natural. It may be, but it also opens doors for disputes. Maybe their other children think the executor is not acting fairly and is acting in their own best interests. Picking a neutral third party for this role can limit disputes.
3. Creating an estate plan in the first place
A lot of disputes happen just because the parents do not have a will or an estate plan. The children then have to decide how to divide up assets. As you can imagine, it’s rare for them all to agree on 100% of that division process. The very existence of an estate plan to guide them makes a massive difference.
4. Giving assets away while they’re still alive
Parents should remember that they do not have to wait to pass on their assets. They can give gifts while they are still alive. This could mean directly giving money to the children. It could mean selling one of them the family home at a bargain price. It could mean all sorts of things. The reason that these gifts lower the odds of a dispute is that everyone is around to discuss the gift and talk about it together, as a family. They can hash things out and reduce the size of the estate in advance.
What should you do?
Every situation is different. Do you think you want to use some of these options to limit disputes? Make sure you know what options you have and what steps you can take.