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Avoid legal battles over your estate with these 3 tips

Avoid legal battles over your estate with these 3 tips

Judge sitting at table during court hearings on grey background

Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks left behind a sizeable estate when he passed away. According to My Fox Chicago, he had a will in place, but a judge is determining whether or not he had the mental capacity to legally sign the document. Banks’ estranged wife and children are arguing that the woman to whom he left assets should not receive anything.

As a Buffalo Grove estate planning lawyer has seen, failing to take the correct steps ahead of time can lead to legal disputes such as this. Here are three ways people in Illinois and across the country can avoid such battles:

Keep it even

Perhaps one of the biggest factors that contribute to a legal battle over inheritance is a situation in which one heir receives much more than others. The American Association of Retired Persons suggests a few ways to create a balanced estate plan:

  • Treat all children equally when dividing property.
  • Assign each child responsibilities for settling affairs.
  • Do not leave the distribution of assets, like an insurance policy, to just one child.

A Buffalo Grove estate planning lawyer may suggest listing all children as beneficiaries on policies or other accounts in order to avoid a dispute.

Establish a trust

In some cases, survivors are upset about inheritance because of the way an heir handles the asset. For example, one child may grow frustrated with another child who inherits and sells a valuable collection. Establishing a trust can sidestep the issue, because trusts can leave property to heirs with strings attached.

It is also possible to distribute assets in phases as a child ages. Instead of leaving a significant amount of money all at once, someone may choose to have the funds distributed over time, starting when the child turns a certain age. This is often done with the hopes that with age comes financial maturity.

Communicate with heirs

Fidelity Investments conducted a study that found adult children overestimated the value of their parents’ estates by an average of $100,000. People can avoid a legal dispute over estate plans by speaking with heirs about the decisions that have been made. This can help children manage their expectations about what they may receive. Additionally, speaking to children about an estate plan can ensure that they know their parents’ wishes when it comes to end-of-life procedures.

The death of a loved one is a difficult time that can turn into a terrible situation when survivors begin arguing over the decedent’s estate. Working with a Buffalo Grove estate planning lawyer can help families understand what they may receive and avoid costly and time-consuming legal battles. Anyone with questions regarding the matter should contact a lawyer today.

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