Avoiding Inheritance Disputes
When a person passes away, their assets and property will be inherited by their loved ones. This can be a complex process depending on the size of the estate, the number of beneficiaries, and the types of assets, which can include sentimental items. Disputes over how an estate is distributed can become extremely contentious, as emotions are often running high. Having a comprehensive plan in place to outline your final wishes can help avoid confusion and lengthy legal battles.
Types of Disputes
Inheritance disputes often arise when there is some perceived inequity in the distribution of assets. This can happen even if the estate is divided equally, if there are circumstances which might have prompted one beneficiary to receive more or less than the rest. For example, if one child has been the primary caregiver for their parent, they might expect to receive a larger share of the inheritance when the parent passes, whether or not this was in line with the parent’s wishes. A dispute can also arise if a person is left out of the inheritance but feels that they have a claim.
Documenting Your Estate Plan
The best way to prevent disputes is to have a specific, thorough plan in place. Having a signed, legally valid will is the best place to start; wills must be updated to account for changes in your family situation, as well as changes in the law. If there are special circumstances for some beneficiaries, it helps to explicitly state the reasoning in the document; for example, a child who borrows a large sum of money from their parent may receive less when the estate is divided. Outlining the reasoning will prevent anyone from arguing that it was a mistake. The will should also include a plan for personal effects, as these can often be a subject of disagreement.
Many estates go through probate, in which the court oversees the transfer of assets from the deceased party to beneficiaries. Probate can be a lengthy process in simple cases, but it also provides an opportunity for beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries to raise concerns, which can further complicate matters. By making gifts or putting assets in a trust while they are still alive, a person can avoid the probate process altogether. Joint property ownership or death beneficiaries on certain types of assets can also help avoid this process, as the new owner is already established upon the person’s death.
No one wants to think about what happens when they pass, but the sooner these documents are in place, the better. Estate planning should take place when adults are still in good physical and mental health so that they can be sure they are outlining their wishes clearly. When dealing with health complications, they may not make sound financial decisions, and they can be vulnerable to manipulation. Caregivers or others may exert undue influence over them or misuse their financial resources. Living wills and durable powers of attorney are also valuable tools for protecting a person’s interests while they are still alive, but incapacitated.
Brooklyn Elder Law Attorneys at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Handle All Estate Planning Matters
Having a neutral, knowledgeable attorney to guide you through the estate planning process is essential. The elder law attorneys at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP provide comprehensive estate planning services that are tailored to fit your needs. With offices conveniently located in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Lakewood, New Jersey, we help individuals and families throughout the surrounding areas, including those in Long Island and Westchester, New York. Call us today at 212-495-8133 or contact us online to speak to a Brooklyn elder law attorney.