Reduce family conflict with transparent estate planning

Sep 18, 2020 | Estate Planning

When parents craft estate plans, they often consider the family’s best interests. Parents will set up trusts for heirs, bequeath family heirlooms to those who want them and identify beneficiaries of insurance policies. However, even this much forethought might not prevent an heir from contesting the will.

Parents can get ahead of these potential contests by adding some transparency to the planning process. By allowing one’s heirs to see how the plan comes together, parents can help reduce the potential for family strife after they are gone.

Address inheritor problems before they contest the will

Transparent estate planning focuses on a three-step process. This process allows the testator to share their thoughts and goals with their family before they lose the opportunity:

  1. Hire a knowledgeable lawyer: Estate plans built throughout a family’s growth often contain many disparate documents drafted by different legal professionals. Parents can find more success in compiling a clear and deliberate estate plan using the services of a local lawyer familiar with estate planning.
  2. Assemble a financial overview: After obtaining a clear picture of the estate, parents will put together a financial review. This document contains a list of the estate’s assets, insurance policies, and beneficiaries; contact information for all involved professionals; login information for online accounts; and a letter detailing the inheritance of heirlooms.
  3. Meet with the family: After completing the plan, parents hold a family meeting to inform their heirs. This meeting allows testators to explain their decision-making process, introduce the executor to reduce speculation, emphasize communication and transparency during the inheritance process, and talk about nonfinancial items and beneficiaries.

Do not lose a lifetime of work to family strife

The transparent planning process seeks to head off potential family conflict and prioritize the wishes and needs of heirs. Families can build a comprehensive plan that satisfies everyone by working with a lawyer familiar with New Jersey estate law and document consolidation.