When a loved one passes away, grieving families often fall into bitter disputes over inheritance rights, sometimes resulting in protracted, expensive litigation. Even if you don’t have significant assets, disputes over sentimental items and other possessions can open deep fissures from which your family may never fully recover. Comprehensive estate planning gives you control over what happens to your belongings after you’re gone, preventing disagreements from arising in the first place.
How to Prevent Disputes Over Inheritance
1. Write a Will
A will gives your last wishes the force of a court order, ensuring that your belongings will be distributed as you see fit. Even if they disagree with your decisions, your family will be more likely to accept those choices if they come directly from you.
2. Talk to an Estate Planning Attorney
Every state has strict guidelines determining the validity of a will. In New York, for example, a will must be signed by the testator and two witnesses, who must complete the document within 30 days. Having an estate planning attorney prepare your documents will ensure your will is valid, closing the door to future legal challenges.
3. Choose Your Executor Carefully
The executor is the individual responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will, distributing assets, and paying off your remaining debts. If you believe your family will fight over your belongings after you’re gone, it may be best to select an executor who wouldn’t be involved.
4. Be Specific
In an attempt to simplify the process, many people simply leave a percentage of their assets to certain individuals. Unfortunately, this gives your loved ones an opportunity to fight over your sentimental items or most valuable belongings. An estate plan that includes specific instructions eliminates the ambiguity and uncertainty that can lead to legal challenges.
5. Distribute Belongings Before Your Death
Any belongings you give to your loved ones before your death won’t have to go through probate, which minimizes the risk of legal challenges. Distributing your estate yourself also guarantees that your most prized possessions go to the people you choose.
For over 30 years, John E. Bach Attorney at Law has provided detailed estate planning service to families throughout Orange County, NY. Drawing on their extensive experience, this law firm will help guarantee your wishes are respected and minimize conflict. Visit their website for more on their estate planning services, and call (845) 294-7941 to schedule a consultation today.