Attorney Explains Strategies to Avoid Family Disputes in Estate Planning
Brandon, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 19, 2014 –
Avoiding surprises may be the most important step in minimizing inheritance disputes among family members.
Dealing with the passing of a family member can be a stressful experience – one which does not always
bring out the best in survivors. When money (in the form of asset inheritance) is added to the mix, bitter conflicts sometimes rise up between family members dealing with difficult emotions.
Probate attorney O. Reginald Osenton says that when heirs are taken by surprise at how the decedent’s assets are to be distributed, they are more likely to create conflict. “If there is any chance that your estate plan and asset distribution will come as a surprise to any of your heirs, the time to fill them in is now,” Osenton said. “This gives them an opportunity to air their concerns or, at the very least, to get used to the reality of the situation.”
Osenton explained that it is not unusual for an estate plan to leave the bulk of an individual’s assets to
charity or to a lover or caregiver who was only lately a part of the decedent’s life. If these decisions
only come to light after death, heirs may draw out the proceedings in probate court.
“If an heir feels slighted, he or she might mount a legal challenge to the validity of the decedent’s will.
Depending on the particulars of the case, that challenge may or may not go anywhere, but it can certainly slow down the distribution of assets — contrary to the wishes of the decedent. Taking the surprise out of the situation helps minimize conflict.”