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Stepfamily challenges after a death

Children's literature often includes stories involving strained relationships between children and stepmothers. Sadly that can be the reality for many people today as remarriages after a divorce or even after a prior widowing experience are far from uncommon. While certainly many stepfamilies create strong and positive bonds, the fact remains that special care should be taken when making estate plans for a remarriage.

As MarketWatch explains, the potential for a dispute between a woman and her stepchildren to arise after her husband - their father - dies is high. One factor that makes this so is the sheer reality that women statistically outlive men. This gives a greater chance that the man will die first, leaving his children to deal with their stepmother once he is gone versus the other way around. How long the couple was married and whether or not the wife had children of her own prior to that marriage may well play into how peacefully an estate may be settled between the widow and the man's children.

When siblings have mixed inheritance priorities

The terminal illness or death of a parent can, needless to say, stir up a number of complex emotions. For one, there is the aspect of caring for a potentially incapacitated family member who may need extensive medical attention and care. Secondly, adult children may face the responsibility of finding a reliable Seattle nursing home to ensure all needs are met. Finally, there comes the often tricky topic of a parent's will. When it does not appear fair, how can siblings work out the issues? 

Sibling rivalry is no stranger to the world of inheritance disputes. MarketWatch points out, though, that adult children should keep one aspect in mind when it comes to will disputes: the fact that most parents want to avoid grievances at all costs. One common issue involves tradition itself; many parents threaten to disinherit children who do not follow strict family expectations and values. Other adult children are left to deconstruct an ambiguous will, which can ultimately present challenges. Just as communication can solve problems in many of life's categories, MarketWatch shares that an honest conversation about the purpose and future of a family's wealth can prove beneficial in a number of ways.

How does an incentive trust actually work?

You've always loved finding ways to motivate your kids. You taught them how to share when they were little, how to work and study hard in grade school and how to approach adulthood with dedication and perseverance.

You want to take that same approach with your estate planning, allowing you to motivate them even when you're gone. You know how hard you had to work to build up your estate. You worry that leaving them the money will kill their motivation.

Protecting yourself against unruly neighbors

If you have ever lived next to, across the street or even down the street from neighbors that make you cringe or interfere with your ability to enjoy your home and environment, you are not alone. Many people in Washington State have experienced the same thing. In a way, neighbors are like family members in that you cannot pick them but you are left figuring out how to deal with them.

Today recommends that there are some things you can do before you buy a property that might give you insight into whether or not there are any unsavory people in the area. Sometimes knowing ahead of time is helpful and may even sway your decision about a purchase. As tempting as it may be to want to rush and put an offer on a home after a quick tour, you may want to wait. Give yourself several days spanning both a weekend and weekdays in which you can drive past the home or walk through the neighborhood in the daytime and after dark hours.

When enough is enough: neighbors and noise

No matter the location, having a noisy neighbor in the mix is no fun game to play. While a barking dog every now and then can become a small nuisance, incessant noise can start to impact one's overall quality of life. Seattle neighbors dealing with these pesky situations have a number of options to turn to, and although each issue can differ from the next, there are some basic tips to handle a situation that is occurring right outside the front door.

HouseLogic weighs the options when it comes to noisy neighbors, first stating that residents can look to their community's Homeowners Association guidelines to reinforce the peace and quiet. Writing the board manager a letter explaining the issue at hand can help them better develop solutions. The HOA board can serve as the objective mediator between neighbors. Even city noise ordinances can help a case of noisy households in the area; HouseLogic mentions that if the neighbor is loud enough, a citation from a noise enforcement officer might be around the corner. Below are additional options HouseLogic offers:

  • Sue neighbors in small claims court
  • Show neighbors firsthand how loud they are
  • Suggest a board meeting in the community

Resolving a neighborhood dispute

Everyone has heard of them, and those who have experienced them would prefer to stay out of the problem for good: neighborhood disputes can quickly get out of hand, but can take months to resolve. Seattle residents stuck in the middle of a neighborhood situation can understand, however, the difficulty of sorting through an issue with someone who may only live a short distance away. 

While noisy pets, band practices and children are common points of contention among neighbors, another commonly disputed topic involves fences and treelines. Fighting over inches of space may seem a frivolous endeavor, but when giving an inch results in the taking of a foot, legal action may be necessary.

Ways to alleviate inheritance disputes

In a time that is likely already sensitive, contention over an inheritance plan can make matters worse. A deceased loved one's arrangements may not please everyone, but there are often ways surviving family can meet in the financial middle. For Seattle residents in the midst of an inheritance dispute, some solutions may work better than others.

Needless to say, a death in the family is capable of bringing out the worst in anyone. Next Avenue lists some ways surviving family can avoid inheritance disputes, firsting acknowledging that many disagreements occur because a parent did not outline arrangements clearly to begin with. By communicating sooner than later, parents can reason with their children over the details of an estate plan, and can ultimately allow children time to process decisions. Next Avenue also recommends that parents get feedback from children during the drafting stages; doing so can help categorize items early on, and can help families untangle issues on the front end. 

Adding a no-contest clause to your will can protect your legacy

Having developed substantial assets over the course of your working life, you have every right to allocate those assets as you like. Solid estate planning, including the creation of a last will and potentially a trust, is key to building a legacy when you pass on. You can contribute money to charity, distribute your possessions to your loved ones or even deed property to the local government for public use.

Whatever your dream may be, it only takes one heir or family member to ruin your plans and your legacy. It is more common than you might think for people to contest the last wills and estate plans of their loved ones, even parents and spouses. There are steps you can take to prevent these issues, but one of the best is to create a no-contest clause in your last will or estate plan.

Estate plannng to avoid future disputes

Most people in Washington State have likely encountered someone who has become disgruntled with a sibling over a parental inheritance. Such inheritance may have been documented in a will or a trust or the person may have died intestate, without such legal documentation. Either way, the resulting feud between family members can be expensive both emotionally and financially.

According to Forbes, our society's preoccupation with improving one's financial standing is a key contributor the large number of inheritance disputes that are initiated. Additionally, it seems that not enough family members sit down with each other and have frank discussions about parental estate planning wishes.

Trees lead multiple neighbors to court

Throughout the Pacific Northwest, the ability to live among green trees and natural foliage year-round is something sought and appreciated. It is actually also considered one of the benefits of living in an area that gets a relatively high amount of rainfall. However, there may well come a point when people in Washington State might not be so happy to have mature trees near their residences.

An example of this can be seen in neighboring Oregon where a nearly year-long lawsuit about some trees in a residential neighborhood is about to be heard at a trial by a judge. It is not known exactly when the dispute first arose but last spring some neighbors initiated legal action against a group of other neighbors. One set of people own homes at lower elevations from other neighbors. The first set of homes are on properties with very tall trees.

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
7331 196th Street, SW
P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Phone: 425-329-7857
Phone: 425-776-3191
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