It is natural for those who are left out of a will to feel a certain level of bitterness or regret. In the case of one woman, her 74-year-old father left a $1.6 million trust as well as his possessions to his third wife. Instead of getting a portion of her father’s estate, she and her family got nothing.
There are ways to avoid this type of situation from occurring. First, experts say that it may be a good idea for an individual to talk to his or her heirs ahead of time. This will enable the will to be written in a way that avoids a heated dispute after the maker of the will has died. Once that is done, the person should check retirement and insurance documents to ensure that the right people are named as beneficiaries. Otherwise, a second or third wife could get money that was meant for an adult child or grandchild.
Finally, it is recommended that people plan early and are fair to everyone who may inherit assets upon a person’s death. Planning early enables an individual to craft a document that is ironclad and meets the needs of everyone named in the document. As it relates to fairness, the document should be written in a way that rewards those who took care of an ailing parent or leaves the house to a child who did the most work keeping it up while that family member was alive.
With any type of estate planning, it is important for everyone to know exactly what the intentions of the deceased are. It may be worthwhile to consult with an attorney to ensure that the family can coordinate things ahead of time and that the will is created in an ironclad manner in case it is ever disputed in court.
Source: The Fiscal Times, “4 Wise Ways to Avoid a Family Feud Among Heirs“, Sheryl Nance Nash, June 16, 2014