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Limiting conflict among heirs with strategic estate planning

As more and more baby boomers begin to inherit the estates of their parents, estate planning concerns are becoming more prominent for Texas residents and the rest of the nation. Indeed, according to a study that looked at the passing of wealth from generation to generation, baby boomers are set to inherit a total of $8.4 trillion in assets in the coming years. The average inheritance is estimated to be $64,000. Even in cases where an estate is small, though, estate planning can help.

One of the biggest benefits of a well-planned estate is how it can lower the chance that relatives will fight over one’s inheritance. Indeed, sibling rivalries often emerge after the passing of a parent, and ugly money battles can ensue. Especially in these times, during a downward spiraling economy, individuals have a higher likelihood of bringing their inheritance disagreements to court.

According to many legal professionals who work with estates, in today’s social climate, there is less shame associated with suing a brother or sister over inheritance concerns. In many cases, the disagreements that lead to litigation are small. However, parents can take action during the estate planning process to prevent these kinds of disputes.

First, parents may wish to avoid tying all of their children to a single asset like a real estate property or business. Parents are also encouraged to divide their assets equally. Making estate planning decisions while a Texas resident is still strong and healthy is also advisable, in order to avoid claims that he or she was unduly influenced during the drafting of the will. Legal professionals who are familiar with estate planning issues and potential pitfalls can also be of enormous assistance to ensure that fighting does not occur following the death of a parent.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Inheritance conflicts pit relatives against one another", Tim Grant, July 3, 2014

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