After the death of a king in ancient Scandinavia, survivors placed all his treasures on a barge and set it on fire. In order to inherit, surviving offspring needed to brave the flames, but it is unclear how many attempted to do so. This is an extreme method of avoiding inheritance disputes that would probably not be practical in 21st-century Seattle. Nevertheless, inheritance disputes among siblings can turn ugly. You should take steps now to prevent the situation among your children from escalating after your death.
According to Forbes, you can arrange for an auction of all assets after the deaths of both you and your spouse or partner. Similar to the custom of ancient Scandinavia, though less extreme, this step gives your children the opportunity to bid on items of importance during the sale, and once the auction is over, all your children receive an equal share of the profits.
You may also choose to leave most, if not all, of your estate to charity. However, if you choose this course of action, you should discuss your decision with your children beforehand and make your intentions clear. Finding out about beneficiaries outside the family after your death may evoke feelings of anger or confusion. One or more of your children may even take it as grounds to challenge the validity of the will.
However, it may also be possible to stop many inheritance disputes before they start by first creating a solid estate plan and then communicating your wishes to your children with open discussions on an ongoing basis. At the very least, your children will know what you want in advance, which may help them to manage expectations when the time comes.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.