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Children and inheritance: Avoiding unnecessary battles

Children and inheritance: Avoiding unnecessary battles


When their parents died, four children inherited the couple’s home. However, More magazine reports that outside of the property itself, there were few details given about how the siblings would divide the remaining assets and items.

As a result, the children, all grown adults, wound up arguing about everything from wedding china to how, or whether or not, to sell the house. One of the children, a 42-year-old woman, said they were forced to make very tense decisions that pitted them against each other.

Proper estate planning is a key part of preventing family turmoil. As evidenced in this case and in many others across Illinois, doing the work ahead of time is a good way to ensure surviving family members understand and accept their inheritance.

Having the conversation

A study from UBS Wealth Management Americas shows that nearly half of benefactors in wealthy families have not talked about their estate plans with their children or other heirs. Some people who participated in the survey said they did not think it was a pressing matter, and others did not want their children to count on the money.

However, the agency reports that having open communication with heirs regarding their inheritance is an important part of managing expectations and avoiding a dispute following the death of a benefactor. In fact, the survey also found that heirs who have seen a will are more satisfied with their inheritance than those who are left out of the loop.

Tips for estate planning

The American Association for Retired Persons reports that benefactors should keep the playing field even, leaving equal inheritance for each child. This may include not only the actual assets involved, but also how an estate will be handled. There are some children who may feel slighted should one heir be put in charge of the entire process.

Other key tips in putting together an estate plan concerning children include the following:

  • Explain the distribution, especially if there appears to be an unequal allotment.
  • Putting money into a trust with strings attached can ensure that children spend their inheritance wisely.
  • Do not trust beneficiaries on policies to divvy up assets; instead, outline plans in your estate for how the division should take place.

It can be difficult for families to enter into discussions about money, or for children to have to think about their parents’ passing away. However, outlining expectations for how assets will be divided not only gives a benefactor peace of mind, but it also puts in place a plan that will make the division process much simpler. Anyone with questions regarding their estate plan should consult with an attorney.

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