The last thing you want is for your family members to fight over your estate when you die. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you may think. The truth of the matter is that the death of a family member sometimes bring out the worst in people. For example, if some of your family members believe they aren’t getting their fair share, they might challenge the will during the probate process and create a lot of turmoil in the family. There are several things you can do to prevent fights during the probate process.
Choose the Right Executor
Appointing the executor of your will is not something you should take lightly. This person will be responsible for distributing your assets to the appropriate beneficiaires and making sure your wishes are carried out. If you’re like many people, you might think it’s best to give the job to your oldest child. However, if he or she isn’t well suited for the task, it can lead to a lot of problems. It’s important to appoint an executor who is honest, responsible and a good communicator. If you don’t think anyone in your family is suited for the job, don’t hesitate to hire an outsider, such as an accountant or lawyer.
Tell Your Family Members About Your Decisions
The last thing you want is for your family members to be disappointed and hurt if they don’t receive the type of inheritance they expected. They may always wonder why you made your decisions the way you did. That’s why you should explain all of your decisions to your family member while you are still alive. For example, if you plan on leaving your daughter a bigger inheritance than your son, you can explain to your son that his sister isn’t as financially well off as he is and may need more money for her family.
Taking the time to give your family members these explanation can avoid a lot of hurt feelings in the future. However, if some of your relatives don’t agree with your decisions, don’t feel pressure to change them.
Provide Instructions on Items With Sentimental Value
Many wills contain instructions to divide personal belongings in equal shares to beneficiaries. However, it can be difficult to determine what constitutes equal shares when you’re dealing with items that are impossible to put a dollar value on. That is why you should simplify things for your beneficiaries and provide more detailed instructions. For example, you could specify which items you would like to go to certain beneficiaries. You could also advise them to auction off items they can’t agree on.
There is a lot that goes into the estate planning process. If you follow these tips, you minimize family fights during the probate process. If you have additional questions about the process, you should consult with a probate attorney. For example, a skilled attorney, like a probate attorney in Cherry Hill, NJ that residents can look to finding an optimal solution and strategy for your situation. He or she can answer all your questions and look out for your best interests.
Thank you to Klenk Law for providing their insight and authoring this piece on fights during the probate process.