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How to Prevent Family Feuds over Inherited Properties in Charlotte Hall, MD

How to Prevent Family Feuds over Inherited Properties in Charlotte Hall, MD


Families are forever, and I wondered if the slogan was meant as a promise or a threat.
 
- Brady Udall


Feuds over inheritance can be hard to mend but easy to prevent, if you have prepared earlier for that day when you are no longer around. That preparation can define the moments when your loved ones, devastated by their loss, will still be speaking to each other after you are gone. Making a will or any type of estate planning documents, can be done at any age. It is never too early. Illness or accidents can occur at any time. Even for young parents, making a will that indicate a guardian for their little ones can be a source of peace that they will be taken care of. Absence of a will, forces the court to appoint a guardian and they might not be familiar enough with the family to select the best person that will have your children's best interests at heart.

Most families behave in a civilized manner. However, when a will is revealed there is a lot at stake and emotions and a sense of entitlement can cause conflict. It's a sad reality, but parents should never assume that their children will behave with goodwill towards each other. The presence of spouses can fuel the feuds even further. They might not have as much of relationship bond with the other inheritors. To avoid these squabbles from happening, you have to get your affairs in order.

Simple Steps to Prevent Future Bickering among Family Members

• Select the Right Executor. Pick someone who is honest and hardworking, well-organized and a good communicator. Parents can sometimes have a preference for the oldest child to be their executor even if he or she is not suited for the job. When picking someone to be an executor, selecting a good communicator that will update the heirs about the events and developments can lessen the suspicions and apprehensions that might be brewing among the family.

• Choose a lawyer that is independent of all the heirs. Choose a lawyer who has no direct connection with any of your beneficiaries. To keep it confidential, visit your lawyer alone, with no beneficiaries present, for maximum privacy. Explain all your concerns and express your wishes freely - whatever and whoever pleases or displeases you. It would help your lawyer to know your honest wishes.

• Avoid Surprises. Surprises can be pleasant or unpleasant among the members of the family. Some may have been pleased with the allocations they were bequeathed and others may be disappointed. These feelings of being slighted or hurt do not mean they are greedy, they are mostly upset by the fact that they will never know the reason that their expectations were not met. These feeling can fuel suspicion and anger. In order to lessen these disappointments, it would be better if they were told, while you are still alive, the reasons behind your final wishes. They may not understand you or agree with you, but the clarity of your wishes can help them come to terms with the outcome.


• Keep all Estate Planning Documents Up to Date. Whenever you have a major life change, update all your estate planning documents, such as wills and/or trusts, and update your beneficiaries. You have to review these documents from time to time, in order to make sure that they reflect your current wishes. Updating your documents can show that you are actively taking control of the process and are not unduly influenced by other people.

• Be Careful with Joint Accounts for Administrative Convenience. Making a family member a co-owner on a bank account for the sake of having someone sign checks or help manage the account are fairly common. This can make the family member a full co-owner of the account with all the rights to keep the money when the original account holder dies. This can be a source of dispute among other heirs because they might expect to get a part of the money in the account. A simple alternative is to appoint someone your trust with a power of attorney. This person has legal duty to act on your behalf, including writing checks but won't inherit the money in the account after you pass away.


• Specify the Disposition of Items of Sentimental Value. Personal belongings bequeathed to a number of beneficiaries that has "in equal shares" clause can lead to confusion and bickering among these inheritors. What is an "equal share" and who decides? It may be impossible to distribute equitably. Specifying beneficiaries for each item is one solution. Another is to give the executor the responsibility of dividing the personal effects or make an auction of all items not agreed on.

Planning in advance and following these simple steps can help prevent families from being torn apart and keep family ties close, after you are no longer around.

 
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