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Open communication may help prevent an inheritance dispute

From the perspective of heirs, not all inheritances may seem equal. If an heir is unhappy with his or her inheritance, the distribution of a grantor’s assets and property might be delayed by a probate dispute. 

Is there a way to avoid this situation? An attorney that focuses on estate planning might caution that the reactions of heirs cannot be predicted with total accuracy. A recent reality television show profiling strange inheritances demonstrates this possibility. However, there are strategies for crafting estate-planning documents that are better positioned to withstand various legal challenges brought against them.

Although it may seem like common sense, sharing one’s estate planning intentions in advance can help avoid surprises and fighting among heirs. Of course, if an individual does not intend to distribute assets equally, this open communication may not put beneficiaries’ minds at ease. There may very well be good reasons for an unequal distribution, such as one beneficiary’s medical condition and expenses. Nevertheless, an attorney might advise that any bequests be clearly explained and documented by an attorney.

An attorney can also help an individual avoid commonly made mistakes in estate-planning documents.One common source for errors is a do-it-yourself will, prepared by an individual using an online form or after consulting a book. Although an independent spirit is to be admired, the truth is that nasty surprises may come from drafting your own estate-planning documents. For example, an individual may have stated his or her intention to transfer property into a trust but failed to properly create the trust. To avoid this result, an attorney to ensure that they match an individual’s intentions should review any self-prepared documents.

Source: Deadline, “‘Strange Inheritance’ Bestows Record Ratings On Fox Business Network,” Jan. 27, 2015

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