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5 tips to lessen the possibility of estate litigation

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2019 | Estate Planning |

Why was my sibling left a more significant portion of the inheritance? Did dad purposefully leave his only son out of his will?

How can you determine that one sibling deserves more than another?

It’s a problematic process determining who to leave your estate’s belongings to after you pass. No matter how you choose to split the property and assets, the likelihood stands, that someone will be upset.

When creating a will or trust, most people don’t go into it wanting to squeeze out a family member. The best thing you can try to do is consider equality. Contemplate the five tips below when putting together your estate plan.

Sibling equality

Like the question above, “how do you determine which child deserves what?”

If you treat those with the same relation to you equally, less in-fighting will likely occur. When you squeeze-out a child for a grandchild, best friend, or favor one child over another, that’s when legal troubles surface. Though you wouldn’t reap the litigation aftermath, is the turmoil created after your death worth it?

Make clear-cut decisions on who inherits what property

Many wills and trusts state that it’s up to the children to devise an agreed-upon plan to divide personal property. That sounds like an estate plan begging for trouble.

It’s crucial to make decisive decisions when dividing specific assets and property to each heir. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle, or if the item has depreciated, sell it before you pass. If you are gifting money, any amount over $13,000 per year will fall subject to a state-specific gift tax.

Treat loans and gifts are “advancements”

If you loan or gift one of your children a large sum of money before your death, say for a down payment toward a home, secure an agreement in writing, that this amount will count toward their share when you pass. This step ensures all heirs will still receive equal shares.

Secure a personal attorney

Especially if you have a complicated estate or familial relationships, get your own attorney. Though it may be common for one attorney to prepare estate documents for multiple family members, trouble could arise. A family member could cry wolf that the attorney is providing favoritism to a singular member.

“No-contest” clause

You don’t want to, but to greaten the chance of peace, adding a no-contest clause could be the right move. This clause states that any beneficiary that contests any provision or the legitimacy of the will terminates their interest. A “no-contest” clause is often directed toward an individual likely to cause trouble if they feel slighted. If you add this clause, you’ll have to leave that person something worthwhile, but doing so can create peace in the long run.