Working with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your comprehensive estate plan meets your needs as well as the unique needs of your family and beneficiaries is an important part of the estate planning process. However, even when you have created a solid and comprehensive estate plan, your assets could still be at risk when beneficiaries challenge the terms of your estate planning documents. Being aware of some of the common warning signs that your estate plan could ultimately end up being challenged is an important part of preventing such issues.
While a healthy amount of sibling rivalry is normal and to be expected in families with multiple children, there are times when it can become a significant issue. Sibling rivalry can be a telling sign. When siblings have difficulty getting along or seem to be in a constant state of competition with one another, there could be trouble on the horizon. You can try to avoid such issues by being explicit in your wishes and talking to children about the decisions you have made when it comes to your estate plan.
Financial Position of Beneficiaries
The financial status of your beneficiaries can be another sign of problems on the horizon. For instance, dividing your estate in half between two children may seem like a good idea. However, if one child is significantly more financially secure than the other, it might be a good idea to modify the division of your assets to address the disparity. There are a number of ways you can address financial disparity, and an experienced estate planning attorney can help you explore your options.
While it is a good idea to nominate an individual that you trust to administer your estate appropriately and even to select a secondary individual to fill in should the primary person be unable to fulfill the duties of executor or trustee, it is not a good idea to nominate more than one person to serve as trustee simultaneously. It can be tempting to do so when you have two or more children or close beneficiaries, but it can cause much more harm than good. In many circumstances, the trustee or executor will have to make important decisions that can significantly affect the value of your estate and distribution of assets. Having more than one person in a position to make such decisions can lead to fighting, and will almost certainly delay the administration of your estate while draining important resources from it.
If you have made the difficult decision to disinherit a beneficiary, you likely have some very good reasons for doing so. However, it is important to remember that doing so could ultimately cause trouble with the administration of your estate because these individuals do not have anything to lose when it comes to challenging the provisions of your estate plan. Being specific about your reasoning and including it where applicable in your estate plan is an important part of securing your decision. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you review your estate plan and make sure that it addresses your wishes and includes the necessary provisions to accomplish the goals you have set for it.