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Four practical tips for avoiding family inheritance disputes

Disputes involving inheritance have the potential to tear families apart. Fortunately, proper planning can help reduce the risk of disagreements among loved ones and ensure they will be provided for when you are no longer around.

Set up an estate plan as soon as possible. Old age and illness can make it difficult to communicate one’s wishes. As a result, the best time to create a comprehensive estate plan is when you are healthy and of a sound mind. Your estate plan should be reviewed regularly as tax and estate laws are constantly changing. Major life events such as marriage or the birth of a baby are also likely to warrant an update.

Have an open discussion with family members. Many people find it difficult to think about their own death, let alone have a conversation about what will happen to their assets afterwards. However, it is important to clearly communicate one’s wishes to loved ones. Be upfront with potential heirs about your intentions. For example, you may want to tell adult children about money you plan to set aside for your grandchildren’s education.

Consider creating a living trust. Property and financial assets can be put into a revocable living trust for protection. Doing so can help avoid the costly and lengthy process of probate, as well as unnecessary taxes and fees. After a person’s death, the contents of the trust are distributed to named beneficiaries either immediately or in the future, according to trust documents.

Consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Estate planning attorneys are in the best position to make sure your estate plan is right for you. They will help ensure that it carries out your wishes while avoiding family disputes. Along with being aware of changes in laws and tax regulations, the attorney will also cover matters you may not have considered. All attorneys are not equally capable. Consider experience, references, and indications of leadership.