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  • Writer's pictureCook Tillman

Preventing Problems Following a Parent’s Death

Estate planning represents careful, proactive steps while you can still make important decisions about your assets and the heirs that receive them. The process provides a much-needed “voice,” if not first-hand account in how money and property are distributed to children.

Sadly, many people put this vital task, presuming that they will have more time. When that time runs out and a loved one has died without a will, trust, or any form of estate planning, personal grief resulting from the loss combines with uncertainty over their assets. The combination can open old wounds that often lead to dissension and disputes.

Open Lines of Communication

Complex estate planning starts with the simplest of steps. Parents sitting down and talking with family members provide open lines of communication. While no one wants to talk about death, starting with full disclosure can minimize, if not eliminate, the chaos. Being private about money is natural, but that need for confidentiality can only create long-term issues.

That initial meeting should not be “one and done,” but the first of many. Ongoing conversations can bring clarity as to which beneficiary gets what asset and why.

The family home, in particular, is often a significant point of contention with disputes often ending up in litigation. Preventative measures can see parents placing the property into a trust or limited liability company. Not only does it keep it out of probate court, but it eases the process of financially and legally overseeing the property.

Not all children of deceased family members are prone to disputes when it comes to the family home. Loved ones who are on the same page can keep it in the family. A portion of the land can be donated, resulting in significant tax advantages. Keeping the house as a rental property could bring in income over the long-term.

The loss of parents is devastating enough for children facing a future without them. Disputes that result through a lack of estate planning only add legal complexities to already emotionally-charged issues. Working with a knowledgeable estate attorney can help families avoid unnecessary conflict.


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