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Considerations for avoiding future inheritance conflicts

In creating your estate plan, you document your wishes to thoughtfully leave your assets to your spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings and other loved ones. Your plan is likely the result of considerable thought, effort and detail to protect against the unknowns of the future and provide for your loved ones.

Unfortunately, disputes can still occur after the death of a loved one, regardless of the meticulous effort that went into the estate plan. Whether your heirs get along great or constantly feud, anticipating inheritance issues can minimize the possibility of a contentious future dispute.

Family dynamics can lead to a dispute

Complicated issues can exist in any Maryland family. Sibling rivalries, caretakers versus non-caretakers, blended families and more can all lead to conflict in the probate or estate administration process.

Those with blended families, or a second marriage, children from previous or multiple relationships and more, can be particularly susceptible to inheritance conflicts. When children or stepchildren feel snubbed, children resent a stepparent’s role or share of the estate or more, tempers can flare and lead to a family battle over the will.

Considerations to avoid conflict

When creating your estate plan, there are a few steps you can take to do your part in avoiding a future dispute among your heirs:

  • Discuss your estate plan. Talking about your goals for your estate plan with your family members may seem awkward or uncomfortable. However, being upfront and honest can help clarify your wishes and diffuse tensions.
  • Name a non-family executor. Naming your spouse or child as the executor of your will can lead to resentment or bitter feelings by others. Consider naming a non-family executor to remain impartial and fair to all.
  • Divide assets equally. Distributing your assets according to what you believe is fair, rather than equal, can quickly escalate tensions. For many, equally dividing assets can potentially prevent conflict and bitter feelings.
  • Carefully consider more valuable items. Carefully consider your wishes for multiple properties, valuable jewelry or more. Leaving a home to multiple heirs can lead to controversy and indecision on what to do with the property.

Even the best intentions to be transparent, fair and thoughtful can still lead to a dispute. However, by taking steps to minimize conflict and communicate the thought process behind your estate plan, you can potentially prevent a costly, bitter dispute among your loved ones during a sensitive time.

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