It is never easy dealing with the loss of a loved one, any everyone handles grief in a different way. When attempting to manage the probate process and handle the different family dynamics, the entire situation can sometimes feel overwhelming. At The Inheritance Recovery Attorneys, we understand how stressful and complicated dealing with family dynamics during probate can be, and we are here to help.
What Estate Drafters can do
Creating an estate plan is one of the best ways to provide for loved ones after a person has passed, but it is important to communicate certain aspects of the plan in order to avoid family drama later on. If there is anything unexpected in the will or a family member will be left out of the estate, talk to those people so it does not come as a surprise. This can help defuse major family problems later on. In addition, specifically state the reasons why the estate distributions are the way they are in the will so there is no ambiguity when the executor reads the will to heirs and beneficiaries.
To help navigate family dynamics, consider handling smaller items of the estate while the estate drafter is still living. This can be done in a couple different ways. The testator can make small gifts of these items to the family members who really want them during their lifetime. Another option is to tag those items with the name of the family member who should receive them in the estate distributions. This helps to establish intent on the part of the testator and avoid family drama. Finally, if smaller items are spread out or the estate drafter does not wish to tag items, consider creating a letter of instruction as part of the estate planning documents that outlines who gets what when it comes to smaller, specific items in the estate.
What the Executor can do
There are also steps that an executor can take to manage family dynamics after the testator has passed away. For large issues, such as the disinheritance of one sibling or family infighting over the direction of a family business, consider bringing in a mediator to help settle the disputes before it rises to the level of litigation. If one of more family members are fighting over the same asset, the executor can liquidate the asset and distribute the proceeds of the sale equally between the beneficiaries.
What Family Members can do
Family members can also help temper disputes and manage dynamics after the passing of a loved one. If one family member was named executor or fiduciary that has an interest in the estate, they can formally decline the appointment and hire an independent party to serve in that role. This can minimize claims that the executor is acting in his or her own best interest instead of the heirs’.
When it comes to smaller items in the estate that family members are squabbling over, there are a couple of ways to distribute these assets that can decrease the drama of the process. One way is to hold a lottery, where items are written on slips of paper and family members draw until the hat is empty. Another option is to take turns, where each family member picks a desired item until all of the smaller estate items are claimed.
One final way that family members can help minimize issues and manage dynamics is to look out for red flags. These things might indicate that a family member will cause problems or raise issues during the probate process, and can be talked to beforehand to manage expectations. If any heirs are struggling financially before your loved one passed away, that can be a red flag. They may be counting on the inheritance to get them out of financial trouble. Another red flag is substance abuse, because oftentimes the abuser will rely on an inheritance to feed the addiction any may even distort his or her perception of reality when it comes to probate. Finally, communicate with family who have any mental health issues that may interfere with the probate process.
Call or Contact Our Office Today
Family dynamics are never an easy thing to manage when you are also trying to distribute a loved one’s estate, but there are steps that can be taken to minimize the impact of family drama on the probate process. To learn more about what you can do to manage the family dynamics in your family’s probate case, call or contact The Inheritance Recovery Attorneys today for a free consultation of your case.