DON’T tear your family apart when you die because you haven’t prepared them for the will you’ve left behind.
And don’t give us the old “why should I care, I won’t be here” argument.
You should care. You’re proud of how you’ve raised your family, they’re good kids and have a good relationship with each other … as far as siblings go.
Then they see the will, the plans for splitting up your estate, and so often they’re surprised, which leads to resentment and all those years of nurturing are destroyed.
We see it all the time.
Often it can be simple wording, or a well intentioned plan by the parents, which can be misconstrued and animosity sets in.
We had one friend who left their entire estate to the eldest son with the clause “and then you look after your sisters”.
Well intentioned but complicated, messy and hurtful to the daughters because they felt it inferred they weren’t bright enough to look after themselves.
It took some pretty hefty legal bills to sort things out.
Here are our golden tips for stopping heirs arguing over your estate.
Start the conversation early
It naturally depends on the age of the children but, if they’re adults, let loved ones know what’s in store and how you plan to divide your estate before you go.
This will help to manage expectations and identify any potential areas of conflict that need to
be addressed before you pass away.
Remember adult children have their own different financial situations, tax issues and preferences.
What is important for one child may not be for another and a natural compromise can be easily reached.
It can also get really messy if a family business is involved and, even messier, if one of the kids works in it.
Nobody wants to believe their passing will cause conflict but, the unfortunate reality is, it often does so communicate your intentions early to reduce the chance of conflict.
After all, there’s a good chance you’re the most experienced mediator in the family.
We believe it is a big mistake to use an estate as a bargaining chip to maintain some sort of power over the family.
“Be nice or I won’t leave you anything,” threats are really destructive.
It’s way better to be open about everything.
Choose the Executor carefully
The executor is the one who directly deals with the beneficiaries so choose them carefully. And it can be more than one.
Many people have a solicitor as executor as well as a family friend or relative and they work as a team. The lawyer does all the legal grunt work while the friend handles all the human emotional issues between beneficiaries.
It’s a good idea.
Play by the rules
The most valuable tool for a quick and effective transition of an estate is clear and legally binding paperwork.
An up-to-date will, trusted power of attorney and superannuation and insurance death nominations will provide firm direction for settling your estate.
A will takes effect when you die and generally covers off how your assets will be distributed, funeral directions and any other last wishes.
If you pass away without a will, the State Government distributes your estate according to predefined rules, so it pays to put it all down in writing with the help of a solicitor.
Give your adult children a copy of the will to keep as a reference.
Get your files in order
Gather your banking, superannuation, insurance and investment details together, along with the contact details of anyone you use to manage your personal affairs.
These should be clearly marked and stored in a secure place that your partner and power of attorney can access when you go.
If your partner isn’t actively involved in the financial side of your relationship, now is an important time to get them across your estate, introduce them to any professionals
you use and provide access to important accounts.
Trying to do this without your help is a headache they really don’t need at an emotional time when they’re coping with your death.
Provide clear instructions
Wills tend to be quite general in language, so try to be specific in your directions, and even provide some background or explanation if you think it will help people come to
terms with your decisions.
The key is to avoid confusion or conflict about what you would have wanted by clearly communicating your instructions.
A simple letter to the executor explaining your wishes in detail can be a huge help and allow you to say everything you might not have been able to articulate in your will.
Avoid playing favourites
Try to make your estate as fair as possible for everyone involved. If you really want to provide more to one particular person, consider doing this while you’re alive to avoid
disputes over the will when you’re gone.
One of the most important legacies of your estate should be to maintain a cohesive and loving family, so make a special effort to find a place for everyone in your estate.
This doesn’t necessarily mean money or assets.
Instead, think about the sentimental items that provide treasured inheritances to the people who they mean most.
Spending the time to get your affairs in order and communicate your final wishes with loved ones is one of the greatest parting gifts you can give to your family.
And helping your parents go through this process might be one of the most important gifts
you give to them.
Get your will updated: Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org for details of our estate planning specialists
Original article here
How poor estate planning can lead to tragedy – more here