Estate planning and inheritance: Preventing family conflict

In Colorado, inheritance issues are often a source of contention among family members. Along with creating internal conflicts, inheritance disputes can lead to lengthy and expensive court battles. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent these issues and to limit the amount of conflict that ensues between family members.

According to US News, anyone who plans to leave behind an estate should appoint a healthcare proxy and establish a living will first. Illness and incapacitation are more likely to occur right before death so careful consideration should be given to end of life care and treatment. Documentation of all plans is necessary.

Wills are very powerful estate planning tools because they allow people to instruct the courts and their relatives on how to distribute their assets. People who plan to pass their belongings and assets on to others should also be aware of the limitations that wills have. Probating a will takes time. Until the courts approve it, the document has no real value. The length of time and legal expenses that are involved in honoring and validating a will can lead to disputes. In order for a will to be effective, it has to go through probate court.

Information regarding healthcare proxies and living wills should be shared with family members, states the AAII Journal. Keep all other estate plans private until the time of death. Minimize conflicts by using disinheritance as an absolute last resort and provide all children and siblings with equal-sized shares of inheritance.

Estate plan instructions should be logically sound to ensure that all decisions are incontestable. Eliminate uncertainty in estate plans by being as specific as possible. Use full names for all beneficiaries to eliminate confusion. Evaluate estate plans and update them periodically to prevent family disputes and conflict.