The Economic Disparity Among Beneficiaries
Socio-economic imbalances of estate heirs can destabilize the entire process. A wealthier heir may afford to hold an inheritable asset, while less economically stable heirs may want to sell for immediate financial gain. The problem seems to become compounded by the number of inheritors. You can avoid these disputes by leaving specific instructions as to the preservation or sale of real property. You may opt for “cash-out” provisions that will pay the less financially stable heirs the value of their stake in the real property and allow the more financially stable heir to retain full ownership.
Beneficiary dependency or mental illness
Irrational behavior that becomes part of an already sensitive situation, like your death and the settlement of your estate, will slow progress and create ill will. Any history of psychological instability or substance abuse threatens to derail an orderly process. To avoid situations with chemical dependency, create contingencies for that heir to test clean for a specific time or establish a discretionary trust where a competent trustee handles access to assets on behalf of the addicted individual. In the case of mental illness, establish a special needs trust or build specific provisions into your base trust. This protection permits the beneficiary to qualify for government assistance and still receive trust disbursements.
End-of-life care for a parent usually falls to one person (often a sibling) handling most of the caretaking. The uneven workload and intimate daily contact can leave the caretaker believing they are entitled to more and coerce the parent to change documents to the caretaker’s benefit. Undue influence is more often than not a product of the other offsprings’ apathy. Prevention includes paying close attention to the increasing susceptibility of an aging parent and using digital means, audio-video cameras, digital monitors that track change in blood pressure et al., to identify parent stress and prevent caregiver coercion for personal gain.
Love knows no bounds. Late in life, marriages happen, and you can expect resentment of your new spouse by existing heirs, particularly in a blended family with children who are primarily, or only, on the settlor’s side. Divorces, remarriage, and deaths make updating your estate planning documents a must. Upon remarrying, it is essential to place assets in your trust or modify your existing trust and will to clarify the division of assets.
Advance Benefits to One Heir and Not Others
If one of your children needs financial assistance now or another is starting a fledgling business, yet another might require a down payment for a first home or bailout money from suffocating college debt, you may opt to provide financial help. These scenarios are common but can strain relations during probate among heirs not receiving the same benefit. Avoid this situation by noting in your trust language which heir received an advancement to their inheritance and how to deduct that previously received amount from your estate assets. If you do not, some inheritors may receive a double payout, ruffling the feathers of other heirs.
Estrangement or Disinheritance
New York Estate Planning Attorney For You
A carefully crafted estate plan that accounts for your heirs and potential relationship problems is the first step to reducing a legal challenge stemming from a family feud. An elder law estate planning attorney knows the problems that may crop up among family members and can address these issues using the appropriate legal entities with clear and specific language. Reducing the possibility of a legal challenge to your estate brings peace of mind to you and your future heirs.