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Heir dynamics: Ways to avoid a contested will

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2022 | Will Contests

When a parent dies in California, one of the children’s first and most common questions is, “What did they leave me?” This may be an unfortunate reaction, but it’s frequently true.

However, there are ways to avoid sibling acrimony, but they require planning that goes beyond a will.

Ways to avoid a contested will

No-contest clause: Recently, many parents have included a clause in their will that disinherits anyone who contests the will. This is particularly important when a will isn’t divided evenly among the children.

Explanations: When a will is divided unevenly, the parents should address their children together and explain their rationale for their decision.

Insurance: Providing individual insurance policies to make up the difference between children can alleviate many hurt feelings before they occur.

Don’t micromanage

As a parent, it’s tempting to try to micromanage your children. However, some siblings aren’t compatible and never will be. If they haven’t gotten along well before their inheritance, they probably won’t afterward. Although a remediation counselor might help, there’s no guarantee, and some children aren’t inclined to agree to that.

Estate planning

Whether you have a sizable estate or a small one, there can be animosity over its distribution. By planning your estate ahead of time and allocating items such as heirlooms to those who want them, you can eliminate considerable animosity. Each state has unique laws governing the disposition of wills, so be sure to have your will and your estate plan professionally drawn up by an attorney or law firm licensed to practice in the state.

Things happen unexpectedly

No matter your age, it’s never too soon to establish a will and plan your estate. Unexpected events happen. When you plan ahead for the allocation of your estate, no matter how small or large, you can avoid placing an additional burden on relatives who are already distraught, which can be the greatest asset you can bequeath them.