Many estate planning clients fear fighting among heirs, which causes anxiety when making tough decisions regarding choosing an executor, distribution of assets, and other decisions. There are ways for estate planning clients to minimize any fighting among heirs. Thank you to Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog for posting the following November 27, 2009 U.S. News article by Phillip Moeller, "8 Tips To Avoid Nasty Estate Surprises."
- Select a good, solid attorney who hasn't done any work for any of your beneficiaries.
- Select an executor who can get along with your family, perhaps even a professional fiduciary if no one else could successfully fill this role.
- Discuss your intentions with family before the will is drafted, taking away the surprise after death and making loved ones aware of personal wishes and desires.
- Take state law into account, creating trusts to bypass probate if probate is especially burdensome under applicable state law.
- Update the will or trust often so that challenges become more difficult.
- Title assets appropriately so that the assets pass through or outside probate as intended.
- Consider a no-contest clause coupled with testamentary gifts adequate to discourage disputes.
- Allow the estate some leeway with distribution of assets so that
beneficiaries can agree to a distribution that suits them best.