Berman & Asbel, LLP

Tips for creating a conflict-free estate plan in Pennsylvania

Often when a person passes away, his or her relatives may disagree about the estate plan, especially if they were unaware about provisions outlined in the will or trust. However, there are several simple things testators can do before they die that can help to deter family feuding regarding their will.

By taking time to explain their estate plan with their beneficiaries, people can help the family to better understand their intentions, which could prevent potential family feuds. For example, testators who wish to leave more assets to one child instead of dividing them up fairly among all the children could explain their intentions. This may help family members not to feel slighted or resentful.

Regarding this issue, studies found that less than 30 percent of people talk with their children about plans for their estate. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that more than 20 percent of beneficiaries argue about the inheritance. The study further noted that more than 60 percent of families who said they did not have any disputes reported that they were given advance notice of the plans, and more than 80 percent of that same group believed they were fairly treated.

Because a will generally reflects the testator's wishes, beneficiaries named in the will often try to honor and graciously accept the decedent's wishes. In many families, however, this is not the case. Conflicts may arise concerning distribution of property, undue influence, probate and taxes. When creating an estate plan, people might wish to seek the advice and guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney who could point out any discrepancies about the estate plan.

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