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How parents with adult children can keep the peace with their estate plan

While people might be inclined to think the passing of a parent would serve to bring adult children closer together, united perhaps in their grief and fond remembrances, this often does not prove to be the case.

Indeed, experts indicate that a parent’s death can sometimes serve to drive a permanent wedge between adult children — and even spark a bitter legal battle — once the issue of dividing the estate is broached. 

Fortunately, these same experts have identified a few simple ways in which parents with adult children can help minimize this potential for familial discord upon their passing.

Be clear about possessions   

Parents need to understand that even though certain possessions do not have a great monetary value, they may have immense sentimental value to their adult children. As such, it may be advisable to avoid including general “as they may decide” clauses concerning the division of their personal belongings in their estate plan.

Instead, it could perhaps even be worthwhile to ask adult children to identify any possessions to which they are emotionally attached and make sure the estate plan contains specific bequests.

In the event one of the items identified by one child as having great sentimental value is also worth a substantial sum, a parent should know they can always include a provision in their estate plan compensating their other children via a legacy of cash.  

In the long run, taking the time to learn that your son is particularly attached to your lucky set of golf clubs or your daughter cherishes your wedding china may go a long way toward ensuring that everything proceeds smoothly upon your demise and, more importantly, that your adult children preserve their relationship.

We will examine more basic tips for minimizing potential conflicts among adult children in our next post.

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