When a family member dies, dealing with the pain of their loss can be overwhelming. Adding all of the tasks associated with tying up all of the loose ends and administering an estate can be a real burden. Having a plan in place is essential to help prevent family disputes over inheritance, but estate planning can also keep the peace in other situations as well.
As Lifehacker explains, planning for one's own death is essential, even if it feels morbid. Regardless of one's age or financial position, having a last will and testament is just one way to take care of the family after death. This document will not only handle what should happen with assets, but it names who will become the guardian of any children and who should be in charge of carrying out the final wishes as executor. While working with a lawyer to create a will isn't a requirement, it does ensure that things are properly carried out, and a lawyer can help with designating a power of attorney and creating a living will. These documents are where medical wishes can be laid out and a person can become the designated decision maker in the event of an illness rendering one incapacitated.
Yet even with a proper plan in place, family disputes can still arise. A recent question for MarketWatch concerns a relative feeling that the executor may be taking advantage of the situation. If a family member is the executor of the estate, it is customary in many states for him or her to take a small percentage as payment for the work involved in handling the final settlement. However, clear communication amongst family parties is important. While it is possible that an executor is abusing his or her position, there are times when acting appropriately raises eyebrows because clear expectations were not set. Discussing expectations up front with the executor can prevent a family dispute from arising, and understanding that this could fluctuate slightly depending upon factors in the estate could save some family heartache.