In the wake of the death of a parent, siblings will be tasked with coming together to settle the Estate left behind. Dealing with the death of a parent is already an emotionally charged experience. Being faced with settling a parent’s Estate can add further stress and challenges, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you and your siblings are at odds with how to divide up the Estate.
These Estate battles can sometimes get ugly and affect an important and cherished relationship with a loved one. If there is no official designation for certain assets, such as treasured family heirlooms, or if you have joint ownership of an asset, you may find yourself in a disagreement that leads to an Estate battle. Here at Trust and Will, we can help make sure that this does not happen. In this article, we will go over five different tips for how to resolve Estate battles with your siblings should you unfortunately find yourself in a battle that feels like there is no solution in sight.
Hear Each Other Out
In situations where you cannot come to a decision on how a disagreement should be handled, whether it be who should inherit a certain asset or whether or not you should sell or keep something, make sure to approach each discussion with an open mind and truly listen to what each other has to say. It can go a long way to have someone listen and be empathetic to your side of the story, even if they still disagree with you in the end.
When you both approach each conversation with the goal of listening to the rationale behind each side’s opinions instead of just fighting to have your way, you are more likely to emphasize with each other’s side of the story and will be more likely to come up with a compromise that works for both of you. Being able to empathize, listen, and come to a compromise will help keep arguments from turning ugly and causing long lasting damage to your relationship.
Create a Fair Selection System
For items that did not already have a designated new owner written within the Will that you are struggling to agree on who should receive them, create a fair selection system. Two different options are to take turns selecting items or using a lottery system. By going back and forth and taking turns, you each will get the chance to select an asset that is important to you, and by doing a lottery you are able to randomize who will receive the items, keeping arguments out of the question.
When you select assets in this manner, it is important that you are both in agreement on which items will go up for grabs. It can also be beneficial to create a contract that will designate the rules for your lottery, and that you each agree to sign the contract to help keep minds from being changed or arguments from arising in the future.
As you divvy up assets, it is important to be honest about how you are truly feeling and what assets are important to you to inherit. If you are not forthright during this process, you raise the risk of unaddressed anger over who received certain assets which can cause arguments in the future.
By being honest now, you are bringing your disagreements to the surface before it is too late and offering up the opportunity for the discussion to be had about who should receive the inheritance. You may end up disagreeing, but if you follow the above steps and listen openly, you can help increase the likelihood that the discussion will remain calm and productive. You may not always get your way, but you will get the opportunity to put your opinions out there now and address them instead of letting them boil over at a later date.
Hire a Mediator
In the event that neither of you can come up with a compromise to your Estate disagreements, it will be beneficial to hire a professional mediator who can provide an unbiased third-party point of view, and help resolve conflicts. A mediator will listen to each side of the argument and come to a legally binding decision. This will settle any further discussions/arguments among you and your siblings because you will be legally obligated to carry out the decision the mediator comes to.
Be Honest with Your Parents About Assets Before Death
The most effective method of keeping arguments from occurring while settling Estate after the death of a parent is having honest conversations with parents about the assets that hold the most meaning to you. If your parents prepare in advance and create a thorough and comprehensive Estate Plan, then they can determine, before their death, who will receive each asset and how they want to divide up the inheritance among their children. When these choices are made before their death, and listed in their Estate, there will be fewer discussion over items that need to be divided because it will have already been done by your parents. Estate Plans are legally binding, so it is unlikely that any arguments can be made against what the deceased directed within the Estate documents.
Trust and Will is dedicated to helping you create your Estate Plan and keep these family arguments from happening after you have passed. It is one of the reasons we have designed our online services to include state-specific Estate documents that will help make your Estate Planning process as easy as possible.
With Trust and Will, you can create your Will, Trust-Based Estate Plan, and Nomination of Guardianship documents all from your laptop without ever having to leave your couch. If you need help determining where to start, we offer a free online quiz to help point you in the right direction. Get started today!
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