Preventing Post-Death Family Fights Over Your Stuff
As we touched on in a post last week, real estate can be a source of big issues following a person’s death. However, it is vital to note that real estate is far from the only type of property that could become a point of contention after a person passes away.
For example, disputes within a family over who gets what after a loved one’s death can arise in connection to all different kinds of assets, even those with little to no real-world monetary value. This is because how a loved one’s property is divided after their death can be a very sensitive issue within a family, as even low-value objects can have a high level of sentimental value.
Family disputes over assets, even ones over low-value assets, could end up impacting a family very deeply. This is why, when it comes to estate planning, it can be of great importance to give careful thought to all of one’s assets, not just the biggest and most expensive ones. Here are examples of some estate planning actions a person can take to try to head off potential post-death family arguments over their assets:
- Making pre-death gifts of assets.
- Making careful designations of where assets will go upon one’s death. For assets that a person decides that they do not want to part with until after their death, one thing that could help with reducing the likelihood of that object being the subject of a post-death battle among family members is making it clear in one’s will or other estate planning documents who the assets will go to upon death. Reducing uncertainty and making one’s wishes known might reduce the opportunities for conflicts.
- Being careful in personal representative selection. In the event that uncertainty does arise in relation to the post-death distribution of a given object, how the personal representative of one’s estate acts in relation to the situation is among the things that could impact the likelihood of family conflicts coming up over the uncertainty.
Of course, these measures can have impacts on many things beyond just the likelihood of family conflicts arising over assets. For example, lifetime gifts can have tax implications. So, when taking actions to try to prevent future family fights over one’s stuff, going to a skilled estate planning lawyer for guidance on the various available options can be a wise choice.