When a loved one passes away, specifically a parent, it often becomes the responsibility of their children to handle the Estate and remaining assets. A big part of this is often dealing with left behind property owned by the deceased parent. Commonly, property owned by the deceased will be passed down to their children who will then become the new owners. This occurs either when the deceased names their children as the new owners within their Will, or when there is no living spouse and no direct new owner stated within the Will, meaning all assets will be passed down to the next living relative.
Dividing property among siblings can sometimes be a tricky subject that you will want to handle carefully because if this topic is not handled with empathy and fairness, it could lead to disputes amongst family members. You may run into complications where you and your siblings disagree about what to do with the inherited property they are now joint owners of, which can lead to arguments and disputes. Trust and Will, a leading online Estate Planning service, can help families navigate these waters, keep arguments at bay, and ensure that your relationships with your siblings are left intact. That is why we have put together a list of tips on how to divide up inheritance with your siblings in a less stressful way.
Have an Open Discussion
Upon you and your siblings becoming joint owners of property inherited from a parent, the first important step will be to sit down together and have an open and honest discussion on how each of you want to handle the property. This is important because it will help you determine if you and your siblings are aligned with how you would like to divide and handle the property, or, if you need to begin working toward a compromise. For example, some siblings may want to keep the property while others may prefer to sell it. In this instance, the siblings that want to keep the property may consider buying out their sibling’s share of the property if they can afford to do so.
Having these honest discussions will ensure you all know where each individual person stands and allows everyone to express their opinions on how they would like to see the Estate and its assets handled. From here, you can begin to work on compromises and what the best course of action will be.
Approach Disagreements with Empathy
If, upon having a discussion with your siblings on dividing up the property, you determine that you are in disagreement, you will want to approach the matter with empathy. By approaching all conversations with empathy and a listening ear, you will be more likely to avoid heated arguments and be able to reach a more timely compromise. When you commit to listening to one another without judgement, it will be easier for you to understand where your siblings are coming from, which will help make coming up with a compromise easier. Empathy also helps keep people from getting their feelings hurt or becoming increasingly upset as they will feel that their voice is being heard. Losing a parent can be very difficult, helping surviving children of any age. Each family member may grieve differently. Having to divide and disperse a parent’s assets and keepsakes can conjure up a lot of childhood memories and sadness at having to let go of them. A soup can covered in glued-on pasta noodles may be a piece of junk to one sibling but may evoke a treasured memory for the sibling who lovingly made it decades ago for their mother or father. Tread carefully and with empathy when handling a parent’s assets, big and small.
Hire a Mediator
If you find that you and your siblings cannot come to a consensus on how to handle dividing up inherited property that you have joint ownership of, you may want to consider hiring a mediator. Mediators are legal professionals who are hired to help resolve difficult arguments. They are an impartial third-party who is specifically trained to help you work through hard-to-settle disputes. Because they are impartial to the outcome of the disagreement, they can offer unbiased advice on how to proceed, and provide communication tactics that will help make the discussion easier. However, mediators can be quite costly, therefore beneficiaries should try their best to resolve their conflicts with one another.
Create a Written Agreement
Once you have had a discussion on how to fairly divide your inheritance, and have determined what the agreed upon plan will be, you will want to ensure that you get the plan in writing. Having a written agreement that each of you sign will be important to ensure that none of your siblings try to change their story, or their side of the agreement. Having a written agreement that all of you have signed will make the agreement on the division of property binding and will give you evidence if your siblings try to fight you on the agreement.
When creating the agreement, it will be important to be clear and thorough. You will not want to leave any room for interpretation or speculation as this will be your evidence in the event that you need it. Once the agreement is written up, give each sibling the chance to review and approve it. After everyone has given their seal of approval, have each sibling sign the document to make it official.
One of the best strategies for safeguarding sibling relationships is to leave your children a comprehensive Estate Plan that clearly states how you want your Estate handled after you pass. Your Estate Plan will allow you to designate who you want to inherit your assets and clear up any confusion after you pass. This is where Trust and Will comes in! At Trust and Will, we want to help families create a well-prepared Estate Plan with our affordable and state-specific online Estate Planning services.
At Trust and Will, you can create your Will, Trust-Based Estate Plan, Nomination of Guardianship documents, and more all online. That’s right, you read that correctly. It is completely online, meaning you will not even have to leave your couch to begin creating your Estate Plan! Not sure where to start? We offer a free online quiz to help get you started. We also have Estate Planning Attorney Assistance for those who would like additional help. So, what are you waiting for? Get started today!