When you begin planning your estate, one of the primary objectives is to minimize the possibility of dispute amongst family members once you have passed away. This can be tricky, and even the most airtight estate plan does not guarantee that a family member will not object or legally dispute it. There are several steps you can take, though, to minimize the chances of this and plan your estate wisely.
The following are three of the most common reasons families dispute over the details of an estate.
1. Unequal property distribution
The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that nearly 35 percent of parents do not leave their estates to their children in equal proportions. While there are a number of common reasons, such as leaving more to a child who spent more time with the parents, or leaving more to a child who is less well-off than his or her siblings, the result is often the same: conflict.
2. Contestation of inheritance
Even if a will or trust clearly states what each beneficiary receives, anyone with standing can dispute or challenge the will in a court. There are many reasons someone would be able to do this. To contest the inheritance clause of a will, your beneficiaries must prove that there was fraud, improper execution, undue influence or lack of capacity involved at the time of its drafting.
3. Conflict with the executor of the estate
Sometimes, the executor of the estate mismanages affairs and does not properly fulfill his or her duties as executor. This can be a cause of dispute amongst beneficiaries if one or more of them suspects that the executor is not acting fairly. The executor must be objective and act according to the stipulations of the will or trust, so it is important that you appoint someone who takes this role and its responsibilities seriously.