How to Avoid Family Disputes and Litigation Over Your Will

Estate plans are created to ensure family members will be provided for after a loved one passes away. Unfortunately, despite the decedent’s best intentions, disputes involving a family inheritance often erupt in many cases and cause division.

Family disputes regarding estate planning can be caused by several issues. On the death of a relative, a dispute can arise if one family member is left out of the will while others inherit.  Disputes can also arise amongst siblings if a parent passes away and not all children receive equal benefits.

You can’t guarantee everyone involved will agree on every aspect of estate administration, but there are some things you can do to avoid disputes over inheritance. Below are three points to consider when carefully curating and fine-tuning your estate plan with your family in mind.

Distribute as Fair and Equally as Possible

Decisions around dividing an estate and inheritance can be complex. There are many situations in which an equal division of assets among children is the right choice. However, in some families, giving each child an identical inheritance might not make sense.

In many cases, some children require more care from their parents as they age than others. They may have different needs or a disability that perhaps require life-long treatment or medical expenses.

Although an equal distribution is easier said than done, do your best to ensure the inheritance is fair and appropriate. An uneven distribution may lead to conflict later.

However, if you do decide on unequal distribution, talk to your family beforehand. While it may sound morbid to talk about inheritance, property distribution, and your future death, clear communication regarding your estate planning wishes can help avoid family disputes later on.

Open communication may also help your loved ones understand why you plan to distribute certain assets to certain individuals, and why some beneficiaries may have been left out.

Update Your Plan Regularly

There are two errors in estate planning. One error is not having a will or other key elements of a plan. The other error is failing to update your plan. An estate plan should always be reviewed and updated when specific events occur in your life such as the birth of a new baby, marriage, divorce, or death.

It’s important to note that an estate plan should not only be adjusted when a life event occurs.  It should be reviewed at regular intervals such as every three years to ensure that your legacy, both financial and otherwise, is passed on in accordance with your wishes and that your beneficiaries receive their benefits as smoothly as possible.

Seek the Guidance of a Competent Estate Planning Attorney in California

The last thing anybody wants is conflict and disagreements while grieving, but disputes happen and should be handled appropriately. If a solution cannot be reached or made privately among the family, it is important to obtain assistance from a skilled estate planning attorney. Consulting with an experienced estate plan lawyer will help avoid family disputes and ensure your estate plan reflects your interests.

If you have any questions about estate planning or making updates to your existing estate plan, Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. can help. Our California estate planning attorneys Chris Botti and Paul Morison have over 90 years of combined experience. Attorney Botti is also a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law. 

We will guide you through the estate planning process and answer all your questions. We will also make sure your estate plan is set up to carry out your wishes and keep your family together.

Call (877) 585-1885 to arrange a free consultation with Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. today. Botti & Morison Estate Planning Attorneys, Ltd. accepts clients throughout California and have offices in Ventura, Westlake Village, Santa Barbara, Valencia, Bakersfield, and San Luis Obispo, California.