It is incredibly difficult for a family to come together in the shadow of a loved one’s death. It can be even more difficult to have a respectful and clear conversation about finances. This combines one of the greatest tragedies any of us is likely to face with the stresses of money management. This can lead to a lot of conflict and animosity. Even the best of us can have trouble with either of these topics. Therefore, it is necessary to plan ahead to avoid the heartbreak and infighting that are likely to arise in these situations.
Fortunately, there are some ways that can help families avoid the worst of these conflicts. These can allow you to prepare your family for these conversations. Following these methods can preserve the peace and love that you have experienced in life.
One of the biggest sources of conflict can be the surprise of finding out how you planned to distribute your money. You need to bring the people closest to you into your thought process and tell them how you decided who to give money to. Otherwise, they are forced to guess what your intentions were. An open and honest conversation with your family may seem uncomfortable. However, it gives you time and the opportunity to respond to any confusion that they may have. This can help you get them settled into a comfortable place with those decisions.
When a family member passes away suddenly, there are decisions as to who is given what property or financial distributions. You can avoid this by having a comprehensive estate plan. Otherwise, family members are left to extrapolate from the last interactions they had with each other or with you. They are already under a considerable amount of stress from mourning your passing. They may not be ready or even able to interpret the situation with kindness.
Conversely, it is very hard to misunderstand the conversation you had when you all had clear heads and everything was clearly explained. It also gives you time to reconcile any grievances or difficulties with each other. It is easier to get everyone to make peace with these decisions while everyone involved is alive, well, and in the room. You can respond with kindness to those who are hurt and apologize if you are inclined. You can also hear out their concerns, even if they do not end up changing your mind.
It is also incredibly important to begin these conversations when you are healthy and of sound mind, if at all possible. Even if your health has started to decline, beginning the conversation earlier rather than later can help allay any doubts. You can demonstrate to others that you are making these decisions in the fullness of your judgment and wellness. You can then avoid giving anyone cause for concern. By taking concerns about your fitness to judge out of the equation, you can avoid confusion about your choices. This can eliminate the possibility of any challenges to the validity of your will.
Having your plan and your will explicitly written down ahead of time is crucial for the happiness and health of all involved. No matter how many times you have a conversation with your family, memory is imperfect. There is always the chance that someone will misremember or become confused about what exactly the terms of your wishes were.
Writing it down avoids these issues. By committing it to paper and putting it on file with your attorney, you remove the possibility of dispute or confusion about each choice you made. This will help resolve any arguments that people raise once you pass and are not there to resolve them for them.
A: Initially, it may seem like the fairest way to divide an estate is to split it into groups worth exactly the same amount for each person involved. For many situations, that can be appropriate. However, it is worth considering a few other factors, such as:
By considering these factors, you can make a balanced decision that accommodates all parties.
A: With siblings in particular, fairness should be a high priority. You should keep the division as even as possible. This can avoid creating animosity and help them stay together afterward. However, there is the case of indivisible items like houses. It may be best to monetarily account for the difference in value between shares if one is getting the house. Alternatively, you might mandate a sale with an equal sharing of profits. This would allow a truly interested individual to buy the others out.
You should also make sure that one of them or a third party is appointed executor beforehand. Ensure that it is clear to everyone involved that you picked the person most capable to do the job of executor, not just the oldest or favorite. This also should not be changed without very good reason, so that choice can remain solid.
A: You could group your possessions into groups of items of equal value. Then, draw numbers to distribute these groups among children or grandchildren to determine who gets to pick. This can help alleviate the tension of this process. You should also make it clear that once they have received their items, they should feel free to trade, gift, or sell them as is appropriate, unless that is explicitly not the case. This allows everyone to receive freely but amend anything they feel a need to.
If you are working through an unclear will, we would be more than happy to help you through the process. Support and clarity are important when you are making these decisions. Contact Sweeney Probate Law today.