As a parent, you undoubtedly want your children to have successful and happy lives. And while money is not the only measure of success, you may want to give your kids assistance when it comes to finances. Many people utilize their estate plans to leave inheritances to their children to help them with financial and other aspects of their lives.
I am worried my kids will fight over my estate!
If you have multiple children, you likely want to leave each child his or her fair share of your estate. But this task is not always as easy as it sounds. Each child may be attached to different assets, and their lives may present different hardships and successes that make certain assets more desirable for them. If you don't take these factors into account, your kids could end up fighting over your estate even if you have a well-designed estate plan - especially if probate becomes necessary. Luckily, there are certain steps you can take to help mitigate these disputes or avoid them entirely.
1. Address specific property
Though you may already address larger assets such as homes and vehicles in your will or living trust, have you taken time to specify where your smaller personal items should go? Rather than leaving those items up for grabs (for example, "half to my son and half to my daughter"), you can create a separate list to designate who should receive each item of personal property. Which child should have your grand piano? Who should get your paintings? Your set of china? Specifying who you want to receive these items can help you ensure that your estate is distributed fairly and, hopefully, avoid arguments.
2. Update your plan
Once you create your plan and feel that it distributes your property fairly, you may believe that is the end of it. However, life happens and things change. What you may have deemed fair and equitable at one point may not seem fair later. If you have additional children or grandchildren, if a beneficiary passes away, or if certain relatives are more or less financially successful, your current distribution plan could require significant adjustments. We recommend reviewing your estate planning regularly to determine if you should make any changes. At the very least, update your list designating who will receive your personal property.
(Go through our year-end checklist to keep your estate plan up to date.)
3. Speak with your family
For some personal items, you may wish to get input from your family. Perhaps your daughter is very connected to your dining table but does not want your jewelry. Or maybe your son would love your book collection but not your vintage car. By having an open discussion on how you should distribute your estate, you can better understand who has an interest in your assets and decide what designations would be the most fair. It can also help avoid later disputes by making all your beneficiaries aware of what you have planned, so no one will be surprised in the future.
(Is your estate plan missing this crucial document?)
Get a Free Consultation
When it comes to estate planning, there are many ways to ensure that your estate is distributed in a way that makes you and your family happy. And while you cannot always control how your children will react after you are gone, you can do your best to avoid arguments by executing a well-crafted estate plan.
To discuss your estate plan, contact the experienced Oklahoma City estate planning attorneys at Postic & Bates today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
[As with all our posts, the contents of this article do not constitute legal advice and are subject to our site-wide disclaimer.]