Estate Planning and Contesting a Will: How to Prevent Family Conflict When a Parent Dies

people shaking hands in front of contract

Disputes involving adult siblings often happen after the death of both parents. Suddenly, even family members who grew up close find themselves arguing over money and property. Inheritance is a complicated issue that causes feuds between brothers and sisters. However, it can be avoided. Here’s how:

Estate Planning

Death comes unexpectedly. There is absolutely no way to know when one will leave the Earth. Although it is difficult for you to think about your own death, especially when you are still healthy, it is something that you need to do to ensure that your children will not fight over your estate after you expire.

It is never too early nor late to create a will. Contact a law office that specializes in estate planning and wills to guide you. You can their offices in Townsville and across Australia.

A will instructs your children what you wish to do with your hard-earned wealth when you are gone. You can identify who gets the ancestral house, for example, or instruct them to sell the property so they can divide the cash among themselves. A parent can also choose to leave one child out of the will if they want to for whatever reason. You may discuss the will with the family so you can explain the decisions you made. This will prevent any of the children from feeling cheated.

gavel and scales

Make sure that anything valuable, including family jewels and pricey paintings, will be included in the will to avoid future disputes. You also need to assign an executor to act as your representative when you are gone. The executor will be responsible for the distribution of your assets to every person named in your will. Your executor can either be a family member, a trusted friend, or your lawyer.

In addition, you must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses. These witnesses should be of legal age (18 years old and above) and should see you personally sign the documents. They do not have to read what you have written; they just have to be around when the documents were signed to prove that it is truly your final wish.

Contested Will

When a child is not happy with the will, they can contest or challenge it. There is an option to talk about the issue privately and without going to court.

When a will is contested or challenged, the person can ask to meet with a lawyer who will act as a “mediator.” This is not only a less costly way of resolving the dispute, but it will also ensure that the relationship between family members is not forever destroyed.

The goal of the mediator is to make all parties settle on an agreement where everyone is happy.

During this meeting, the executor, the family member who is contesting the will, their lawyer, and the mediator will be present. Once a decision has been made, it will be written down and signed by everyone in the room. This will function as proof that the matter has been solved.

As a parent, you may have to revisit your will and make changes from time-to-time throughout your life. After all, feelings change and you know what your children need. However, it may also be more preferable to be impartial when dividing your assets among members of your family to prevent disputes and feuds in the future.

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