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4 ways to avoid an inheritance dispute

Two of the main reasons behind inheritance disputes are questions about mental capacity and/or undue influence. Essentially, it's being suggested that what the will says is not actually what the person wanted.

What can be done to stop these disputes before they start? Here are four key ways to avoid a dispute.

1. Don't wait until you pass away.

Don't wait to give money and other assets to your heirs. Offer up assets that you don't need while you're still alive. Then there's no cause for dispute and heirs know it was your decision.

2. Sign your will on video.

This can be more than just proof that you signed it. The conversation had on the tape, while you sign, can show you were fully mentally capable at the time.

3. Give small gifts and sign a will on the same day.

For instance, perhaps you think your son may contest the will. Write him a check for $100 and sign it and the will at once. If he cashes the check, it's evidence that he thinks you can make your own decisions about property and assets, lending credibility to the will.

4. Talk to your heirs.

People often dispute a will because it doesn't fit with their expectations -- even if these expectations were not grounded in reality. Talk with them in advance so that everyone knows what's coming, and it can eliminate disputes.

Estate planning doesn't have to be difficult or even overly complex. However, if you really want it to go off without a hitch, it's critical to know how the legal process works and what you can do to make things go smoothly.

Source: Huffington Post, "Preventing Common Inheritance Disputes," Brad Reid, accessed Aug. 18, 2017

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