It is a fact: in most family inheritance disputes, the only people who end up financially benefiting are the lawyers involved. But it doesn’t have to be that way! By organizing, documenting, and talking about your wishes early and often, you can solve family battles before they even begin.
want to learn the 5 useful secrets for solving family inheritance disputes? read on...
organize and document your wishes
Long before it is necessary, start organizing and documenting your wishes. This means putting your wishes for “who gets what” in writing, preferable a legally binding will. Hire a lawyer to prepare the will, or create one yourself online at a reputable online company (such as LegalZoom).
For example, if the eldest son is to inherit the family wedding ring so that he can keep it in the family, document it. Without express written decisions made in advance, family disputes can rise up. Tell your heirs your wishes so there are no unpleasant surprises after you’re gone.
honor written wishes
When a family member has passed away, the will is the legal document that has primary precedence is dividing up the remaining personal belongings, according to the law. It doesn’t matter if Grandma always told everyone that Billy should get the art collection: if it’s not in writing, it doesn’t legally count.
If the deceased prepared an informal list of their wishes (or marked items with labels, as some people do) AND the heirs can agree to it, try to honor those wishes. The only people who financially benefit from estate battles are the lawyers involved.
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Don't remove anything from the house ahead of time
If an ailing, aging parent remains in the home and starts “giving away” valuables or cash, the right thing to do is share that information with all the heirs. Often times the adult child who is the perceived “favorite” benefits from this: this is a sure way to cause family disputes in the future. Take the high road and disclose to other heirs what has already been given to you.
After a family member passes, one of the very first things the Executor should do is change the locks to the house. This measure will prevent any neighbors, service providers, or unscrupulous heirs from “helping themselves” to belongings in the house. Nothing should be removed from the house until all the heirs can go through the home together. Always act with integrity and transparency to avoid family disputes over the belongings.
immediate heirs only
When it comes time for the heirs to organize and divide up the belongings, it should be the immediate heirs only. This means no spouses, children, grandchildren, or close family friends. Reducing the number of people involved will streamline the process and keep it simple.
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agree on a fair way to divide items equitably
Before the heirs begin dividing up belongings, agree to a fair way to divide things up. Consider these ideas:
Take the time now to organize, document and talk about your inheritance wishes with your family. It will solve future battles before they even begin.