Beebe and O'Neil

How can I prevent my heirs from fighting?

An estate plan ensures your family is cared for after you're gone. However, estate plans can also be the source of stress between heirs when one perceives he or she has been slighted or not received a fair share of the estate. While you can't always prevent your heirs from fighting, AARP recommends the following steps so you can mitigate as much stress as possible. 

If you're extremely concerned about conflicts arising, consider giving all of your heirs an equal portion of your estate. Estate squabbles are not always about money issues, although money is definitely a factor. In some cases, providing one child a greater share can exacerbate old resentments, some of which may have materialized in childhood. Giving each heir an equal share of your assets will prevent them from claiming favorites while also showing how much you care for your family.

If you feel it's best to divvy up your estate in a different way, sit your heirs down for a frank discussion. Go over your estate plan and why you made it this way. If you can provide explanations for your decisions, it might serve to help your family feel a bit more comfortable. It will also allow you to answer questions and receive input from your heirs, which can be very cathartic for all involved. Keep in mind that the ultimate decision is yours and you must do what's best for your family and your estate. 

You can also name an executor to help handle the situation. Be wary when naming an adult child however, as this can also be the source of conflict. You might also want to consider paying your executor a fee, as the role requires quite a bit of work, some of which will be extensive. You can even enlist adult kids to help out in other ways. When heirs feel involved with estate planning, they're less likely to experience resentment about the way it's been divided. 

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