Many parents draft their estate plans with a hopeful vision of the future after they are gone. Few parents imagine their children fighting among themselves over nuances in the will or beneficiary payouts. However, these painful arguments have caused more than a few years-spanning rifts between siblings.
Parents have an opportunity to get ahead of this conflict, though. By including your heirs in the estate planning process, you can prevent these arguments from ever occurring by addressing the issues before writing them into the will.
Folding transparency into your estate planning
The best way to get ahead of potential inheritance disputes is by talking about your estate early and often. The more your heirs know about your estate, the more context they have for any decisions that might otherwise frustrate them. The following steps lay out a process for assembling your estate planning documents and sharing them with your family:
- Find a knowledgeable lawyer: A comprehensive estate plan starts with a good lawyer that understands estate planning in Washington. Professionals who frequently work with retirees, like financial managers or accountants, may have recommendations.
- Draft a financial overview: A financial overview contains an itemized list of everything included in a comprehensive estate plan. This document simplifies the process for heirs and the executor by listing all assets, liabilities, insurance policies, beneficiaries, contact information for financial professionals, login information for online accounts, and the beneficiaries of nonfinancial items, like family heirlooms.
- Schedule a meeting: The final step requires telling the family about your plans. A meeting gets all the heirs together in one place to discuss the passing of their parent’s estate. You can outline your intentions, introduce the executor and address family concerns about their anticipated inheritances. Most importantly, this meeting allows your heirs to openly discuss the inheritance process and address sibling animosity before it festers.
Start planning today
One can never start estate planning too early, especially if you own property, invest in the stock market or have several children. The earlier you have these discussions with your heirs, the longer you have to resolve potential conflicts that compromise the integrity of your family’s hard-earned legacy.