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5 Estate Planning Tips to Avoid Family Inheritance Disputes

Estate Planning Attorney Grand Rapids MI

A death in the family is hard enough without family members getting into disputes over inheritance. The truth is that many family inheritance disputes can be prevented by asking an elder law attorney to help you plan your estate.

In this blog post, we will go over our tips for how to avoid family inheritance disputes. For more information, our Grand Rapids attorneys at Sean Cox Law recommend contacting an estate planning lawyer in your area.

Plan Your Estate in Good Physical and Mental Health

Many inheritance disputes start when family members suspect you weren’t in sound mind while writing your estate plans.While we understand that unexpected health complications can prompt people to write a last will and testament or living trust, we recommend you do so before your health is compromised.

Hire a Neutral Estate Planning Attorney

Avoid being swayed by your beneficiaries by hiring a neutral estate planning attorney. While there are many DIY options available to make your own estate plan, these often become contested in court for being too vague. The best way to protect assets and property is to hire an attorney that doesn’t have any ties to your family. For example, don’t hire an attorney that comes highly recommended by one of your beneficiaries.

Avoid Probate with a Living Trust

Probate provides an opportunity for family members to contest your estate plans in court. A living trust allows you to avoid probate because you are placing your assets and property into the trust for distribution while you are still alive. Make sure you pick a trustworthy trustee to manage your trust.

Explain Special Treatment of Beneficiaries

Nothing can stir up old resentments and jealousies more than giving special treatment to certain beneficiaries. This can especially be the case if the beneficiaries are all your children and expect equal treatment.

If you decide to leave significantly more or less to a beneficiary, it can help to explain your reasoning in your estate plan. For example, you might explain in your estate plan that your son will receive less than his siblings because you gave him an advance on his inheritance to buy a house. Taking the time to explain special treatment can help ease family disputes over inheritance.

Describe How Personal Effects Will Be Distributed

Perhaps nothing will be more personal to your survivors than the possessions you leave behind. This is why it’s important to describe exactly how you want your personal effects to be distributed. The person responsible for distributing property and assets to beneficiaries will make sure your personal effects go to the right people.

Without this information in your estate planning documents, it becomes all too easy for family members to take (or steal) what they want from your home with the justification of “they would want me to have it.” Any valuable possessions of yours should be documented in your estate plan, along with the names of their intended recipients.

The Law Offices of Sean Patrick Cox PLLC is dedicated to helping clients with estate planning in both Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. If you are interested in setting up a legal consultation with our Grand Rapids estate planning attorney, be sure to contact us today!