People in Washington State who get remarried may have been told that having very clear estate plans is important yet some still choose to avoid making these plans. Even in the happiest of blended families, troubles can brew between the biological children of a deceased person and the surviving spouse. One current example of this can be seen in the case of a country music legend who died in the summer of 2018.
Most people in Washington State are likely aware that the woman commonly referred to as "The Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin, died last month. It is likely a common thought that anyone of her status and wealth would have had a solid estate plan in place. It has, however, come to light as reported by The Washington Post that the famous singer and entertainer did not, in fact, have any will, trust or other estate planning document in place at the time of her death.
Nobody in Washington State wants to think that their adult children, grandchildren or other relatives could someday be at each other's throats over money. Yet, this can and does happen more often that most people would want to really know. The sadness that can accompany these fights represents the loss of many memories and hopes for the future but may be able to be avoided with the proper preplanning.
Unlike the dramatic challenges to the will of a wealthy person that Washington residents see in entertainment programming, the vast majority of wills make it through probate without opposition, according to FindLaw. In fact, about 99 percent of them are unchallenged, due to the weight a will carries as a final record of how the testator wishes to distribute his or her inheritance.
Despite the effort that many in Seattle put into their estate planning, there is no guarantee that disputes and discord will not arise amongst their beneficiaries once they are gone. If such disputes are possible even when people have planned out the distribution of their estates, imagine the chaos that can ensue when a person dies without a will. Such an occurrence is certainly not uncommon; after all, according to information shared by the American Association of Retired Persons, only four out of 10 adults in America have drafted any sort of estate planning documents.
The death of a parent or grandparent is always tough, whether it is a sudden accident or death after a long, slow decline in health. What makes it tougher for Seattle residents is a will that they feel is unfair. For example, a child who acts as the primary caregiver for an aging parent for several years may feel entitled to a bigger share of the estate than siblings who did not.
Unfortunately, stories of elderly abuse -- especially those involving financial deception -- are all too common. A large number of these cases occur within the walls of Seattle nursing homes and hospitals. Some incidents, shockingly enough, can be traced back to an elderly person's own family member.
Seattle residents certainly do not want to see their decisions regarding the dispersal of their estates to cause contention amongst their beneficiaries. Being as transparent as possible in the structuring of a will might help to avoid that, yet there still may be situations where one beneficiary who is unhappy about what he or she receives chooses to dispute the matter and hold up the entire estate administration process. Some might say that there is an easy way to avoid this: simply include a "no contest" clause in a will.
A dispute over inheritance, no matter how large or small, can escalate quickly and unexpectedly. Children and grandchildren who argue over inheritance often find themselves in the middle of a situation that not only involves the death or anticipated death of a family member, but a relationship at stake. Why do these family feuds happen, and what can Seattle residents do to prevent them?
The death of a family member is, needless to say, a stressful enough experience on its own. Inheritance disputes often only add to this stress. Why did a late family member decide to arrange the will they way they did? What might it mean for beneficiaries? How can siblings cope with misunderstandings and disagreements as a result? Although each situation in Seattle is unique, the following can provide some clarity during these complicated times.