How To Deal With Bickering Families Over Inheritance Issues
You know the law when it comes to settlement and distribution of the estate, but what you might not be aware of is how ugly it can get for families who have inheritance issues. Families fight over the smallest of things when it comes to inheritance and here are some things you should take note of when dealing with such cases.
Understand That It Is Not Always About Possessions
When someone dies, their estate gets distributed and this is where siblings and the surviving spouse can go nuts and start to fight over what is left. While this could be because of how they deal with distribution of the estate of perhaps how they cope with the death of a loved one, some would say that sometimes it is not about possessions rather it is about feelings.
Doug Stanley, an estate planning attorney who works with Bryan Cave LLP in St. Louis says that when dealing with the will of a deceased parent, there are sure to be a lot of hurt feelings and a lot of those named heirs therein will not be too happy with what they discover. He talks about a client who remarried after his first wife died. When such client passed on, he willed some of his valuables to his current wife and not his children. The client wanted the wife to have something while she was alive, but the children took this gesture in a different light.
[su_quote cite=”Ambrose Bierce” class=”cust-pagination”]“Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.”[/su_quote]
Enlist the Help of a Family Counselor
While you might be aware of how ugly it could be for a whole family fighting over an inheritance, you should also know that their most valuable asset is the family itself, which they tend to totally brush aside when fighting over an estate. You should also be aware that a significant number of disputes involve testators, heirs and beneficiaries who have dysfunctional family backgrounds such as those with mentally ill, addicted and criminal family members.
Family counselors are well equipped to handle these kinds of tensions and this can make your settlement proceeding way easier for you and for the family. Therapists can counsel your clients on the consequences of the decisions which they can make.
Work With A Financial Advisor and Accountant
Prevention is much better than cure and knowing how ugly the effects of a family fighting over inheritance is, you should make estate planning an elementary practice for families with elderly members or those who are commonly engaged in activities that can endanger life. In coming up with an estate plan, work closely with an accountant and financial advisor. Be sure to make the plan as robust as you can and keep in mind that the end goal of estate planning is to avoid future conflict.
How you plan should be at the same pace with how the family’s expectations and financial circumstances. With your knowledge of the law, you can help family members be aware of what they are getting into and what rights and obligations they have.
Consider A Trust Owned Life Insurance Policies
While dealing with the passing of a loved one is hard enough, the conflicts are most often tougher with families who handle a big business or real estate that has been occupied by one child and now co owned by other children.
Garett Hurley of Brix Wealth Management says that when you make use of a trust owned life insurance policy, the inheritance can be equalized while actively preserving the asset for the children who use or participate in the asset such as those who run the business or occupy the house.
Get Rid of Everything
Some of the ugliest consequences can call for the most desperate measures. So if everyone is well enough financially and if the distribution of the estate can just cause more conflict, one practical solution would be to get rid of everything. Your clients can consider donating everything to charity where things can be used better. The heirs can also agree that all assets would be auctioned off so that the proceeds will be distributed equally. When some particular items are important to some heirs, they can take part in the auction and bid for them.
If nothing really works, this can be handled like how the ancient Scandinavians do. When their king would die, all of his treasures would be placed on a barge and set on fire. If any of his heirs wanted a share of their own treasures, they had to hunt their own.
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