Estate planning goes beyond distributing money and valuable assets to surviving loved ones. Life will go on for family members after the death of a loved one. During that time, inter-family issues could arise that result in contentious litigation over the course of several years, fracturing and destroying longtime relationships.
In addition to a will and a trust specifically spelling out holdings during life and after death, estate plans should include:
- Steps to take if a parent becomes incapacitated
- Assets transferring to beneficiaries
- Durable power of attorney
- Living will with a medical directive and letter of intent
Proactive Steps to Keep the Peace
Before drafting the documents, establishing open lines of communication is paramount prior to any serious or potentially fatal health issues. Whether out of pride or privacy, parents often resist having these difficult talks. The conversations are never easy. No one wants to think about the end of a life. Staying silent has consequences. Full disclosure can go a long way into maintaining family harmony long into the future.
Few things can tear a family apart more than money-related matters, including those after a loved one’s death. The smallest issues can intensify, particularly when siblings suspect that not all things are equal in asset division. The slightest hint of animosity can create longtime and even permanent rifts, particularly if loved ones are caught up in legal battles.
Instead of enjoying the gifts they received, money is spent to litigate disagreements. Instead of spending quality time together, loved ones can find themselves on opposite ends of a courtroom.
Legal fights, not family harmony, end up defining a parent’s legacy.