Will with PenA 74-year-old man passed away, leaving $1.6 million in a family trust in addition to his beautiful home. According to The Fiscal Times, he left his entire estate to his third wife, who would not permit the man’s children to have anything of their father’s, not even a small keepsake. The situation sparked a family feud, isolating the man’s children from his widow.

As Rolling Meadows estate planning attorneys know, this situation happens all too often when people in Illinois and elsewhere fail to take the right steps in creating wills and trusts. Experts suggest several ways to prevent such tension:

  1. Itemize

People who are doing estate planning should begin by itemizing all of their assets, including the following:

  • Retirement savings
  • Investment accounts
  • Valuable collections
  • Jewelry
  • Furniture

When taking inventory of the property, it is important to note who may already be listed as a beneficiary on certain policies.

  1. Discuss plans with heirs

According to a report from Forbes magazine, roughly 70 percent of wealth transitions to heirs fail because a dispute leads to dissipated assets. Researchers found that people were not doing enough to prepare the intended recipients for their inheritance.

With that in mind, prior to putting anything in writing, people may want to talk to children or other potential heirs to learn their wishes. There may be property that seems insignificant but holds value to someone else, which could be outlined in a will. Additionally, once any decisions with Rolling Meadows estate planning attorneys are made, there should be a discussion within the family as soon as possible so there are no surprises with it comes time to divide assets.

  1. Decide what it means to be fair

Property has all kinds of different values associated with it, ranging from a quantifiable monetary amount to an emotional attachment. This can make equally dividing an estate difficult. Parents may want to consider having items appraised to leave shares of an estate that closely match in value.

On the other hand, parents could take other factors into account, such as leaving more money to a child who is struggling financially or a child with long-term medical needs. Under such circumstances, it may be especially important to discuss these plans to avoid a potential dispute.

  1. Update plans often

As family dynamics change, so may a will or trust. Someone who remarries may want to revisit the beneficiaries on insurance policies and the names on the title of a home. Estate plans should be reviewed after any major event such as a marriage, birth or death in the family. It is also wise to revisit these documents on an annual basis. Rolling Meadows estate planning attorneys may help people put together plans that will mitigate the chance of a family feud.

Should you have any questions about family trust or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.