There are very few things that can be more destructive to a family than a fight over an estate. Once the fight begins it becomes nearly impossible to regain family harmony because of the deep and bitter emotions that battles over estates have. People who know this seek to create estate plans that make family fights less likely.
While it is not possible to avoid all fights, there are some steps that can help.
Recently, the Lodi News-Sentinel discussed some of those steps in "Avoid family fights over inheritance," including:
Plan ahead of time. You should have an estate plan in place long before you think you will need one. Sudden deaths happen and it could happen to you. If you have no estate plan, you practically invite your family to fight over your estate.
Consider irrevocable trusts. At some point your family might start thinking about what will happen to your estate after you pass away and they might start angling for position in the estate. If you have planned ahead and have an irrevocable trust, then you will not be as easily influenced to change plans to accommodate everyone.
Use a professional trustee. Instead of appointing a family member to be in charge of your trust after you pass away, use a professional who will remain independent and treat everyone in the family equally.
Hold a family meeting. Bring everyone together and let them know what your plans are and why you made them. Family members who are surprised by your estate plans after you pass away are more likely to argue.
Reference: Lodi News-Sentinel (Nov. 7, 2016) "Avoid family fights over inheritance."