A recent article in Forbes Magazine highlights the probability that poor estate planning will result in family conflict after a death. ”Three adult siblings bickered over who would get this little blue bowl when their grandmother died. It had been a freebie–packaged with a store-bought Christmas pudding during the 1950s.”
Poor Planning Often Results in Family Conflict
In my practice in Grants Pass and Medford as an estate planning attorney, it’s not unusual at all for me to see families torn apart after the death of Mom or Dad. Often the parents either did no estate planning, or did the typical “1950′s style” fill-in-the-blank, word processed planning offered by many attorneys which fails to consider how estate plans will affect a family emotionally.
Examples of Poor Planning
Here are a couple examples I’ve seen of planning which guaranteed a family conflict:
- Parents make one child, often the oldest, the successor trustee of their trust. Even if the kids got along well before, making one child the trustee “in charge” after death of settling the estate and making distributions to the other children unbalances the status quo of power in a family. This can lead to feelings of suspicion, jealousy and envy.
- Parents leave everything to one child with the idea that child will “be fair” in distributing assets to the other children. Not only does this have gift tax implications, but it engenders feelings of jealousy and suspicion on the part of the other kids. Also, sometimes a child can be tempted by inheriting all of the estate, and rationalizes that Mom & Dad really wanted them to have more because “I took care of them more than the others” or whatever reason they want to rationalize to keep the money.