The Sibling Rivalry-Proof Estate Plan
If you have more than one child, then dealing with your children’s conflicts with each other is just a normal part of parenting, albeit an exhausting one. Parents can console themselves that the constant fights are temporary; just as you will one day be able to laugh about the days when you were constantly changing diapers and cleaning up spit up, the days of “but he hit me first” will one day be a part of the past. Sometimes siblings who fight like cats and dogs grow up to be each other’s strongest supporters, but this does not always happen. Sibling rivalry among adults can be even more painful for parents to watch than childhood conflict among siblings. The stress of settling a parent’s estate can cause a rift even between siblings who have gotten along well throughout their adult lives, so imagine how much worse it can be if their relationship was already strained while the parents were alive. If your children have a conflict-ridden relationship with each other, an estate planning lawyer can help you design your estate in a way that can minimize conflict among your children.
Family heirlooms such as jewelry, dinner china, and furniture may or may not have a high resale value, but it might have high sentimental value for your children. How attached one of your children is to a certain family heirloom often has nothing to do with how expensive it is. Ask your children which family heirlooms they love the most, and then give them to your children promptly and watch them enjoy them. This way, the personal items that become part of your estate are not the ones with the most emotion attached to them.
Real Estate Properties
Ask your children, separately, about what they would like to see happen to real estate properties that will become part of your estate. If one child wants the house, leave it to them, but leave the others a cash amount that would equal their share of the house if its value were divided equally. If none of the children want the house and would rather have the proceeds from its sale, specify in your will that the personal representative of the estate should put the house up for sale. Better yet, sell it while you are alive and put the money into a trust for your heirs.
If your children are sworn enemies, no amount of sweet talking or shrewd planning on your part will heal the rift between them. In these cases, it is best to appoint a neutral third party, such as a lawyer, to be the personal representative of your estate. You can even specify in your will that you want your children to attend mediation as part of the probate process.
Contact an Attorney for Help
You know your children best; your lawyer can help you develop your estate plan in a way that will avoid bringing out the worst in them. Contact Clearwater estate planning attorney William Rambaum to discuss your questions.