The process of putting together a comprehensive estate plan requires that someone carefully considers numerous variables. For example, people have to think about their future medical needs and what may happen with their debts after they retire. They also have to determine which of their family members should receive what assets and who is the appropriate choice to assume a position of authority during the estate administration process.
All too often, people fail to thoroughly consider what will happen if their beneficiaries fight with each other after their death. Anger concerning the terms of a loved one’s estate plan and dissatisfaction with one’s inheritance could prompt a beneficiary to take their concerns to probate court. How likely are beneficiaries of an estate to fight with one another over inherited resources?
Certain factors increase conflict levels
When putting together an estate plan, one of the most important considerations for the testator will be the behavior of their loved ones. Those who believe that conflict is likely can take certain steps to reduce the risk of probate litigation, including adding no-contest clauses to their wills or adding a trust to their estate plan to more carefully manage the descent of their property. Estate challenges are among the most common types of litigation that delay estate administration.
There are certain scenarios in which someone might have a greater risk of their beneficiaries fighting. These include when there is a strained relationship between the beneficiaries, as is common in groups of siblings. Naming a beneficiary as the party to handle estate administration can also increase the likelihood of conflict that requires court intervention. Additionally, if there is a major difference in the economic status of different beneficiaries, there can be a lot of resentment during probate administration. If someone leaves everyone an even inheritance, those with lower socioeconomic status to begin with me feel slighted, and those that have done better for themselves may resent a decision that gives those with fewer resources more of the estate.
The right plans can reduce legal conflict
When someone recognizes that their estate is at elevated risk of litigation because of family circumstances or how they want to distribute their resources, they can make a more effective plan that reduces the likelihood of litigation diminishing what their beneficiaries actually receive.
Contemplating the different challenges that can arise during estate administration may help those who want to maximize what they leave for their loved ones when they die and pass on a legacy without harming the relationships between their beneficiaries.