In dealing with a tough family situation, many times stress and turmoil can become magnified causing even the closest of families to disagree on a number of issues. Whether it is disagreeing about the way an estate should be administered or who should be put in charge to handle a loved one’s finances, unfortunately these disagreements can have a lasting impact within a family. Parents may simply assume that any beneficiaries would get along and be on the same page if anything were to ever happen. However, any potential rifts can be prevented with proper estate planning. The following provides some easy ways to prevent any potential feuds or disputes when a stressful situation arises.
Having a Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney
If a parent becomes seriously ill and is unable to make decisions for him or herself, many seemingly simple decisions can become complicated. The parent may not be able to handle his or her finances. If one of the children attempts to take over the financial matters, there is obviously the potential for issues between the children. One child may think that he is more apt to handle the finances while another child may think that she is better suited. Having a power of attorney allows the parent to choose who her or she thinks is best suited to handle the finances if a situation arises. There is much less room for a dispute knowing that the parent has made the decision. Similarly, having a health care directive like a living will can ensure that the parent has his or her decisions written down rather than assuming that mom or dad would have wanted or not wanted certain treatment in a situation.
Having a Last Will and Testament
If a parent passes away without a last will and testament, there is a large potential for feuding between the children. Without a will to determine how assets be distributed, issues can arise when attempting to distribute personal property. You cannot divide a car four different ways as you could with a bank account. By putting forth your wishes in a last will and testament as to how you want your property distributed, you can removes the potential for any disputes. Similarly, a parent can nominate an executor of his or her estate within a will. An executor is the individual responsible for handling the administration of an estate after someone dies. By nominating an executor, it eliminates the issue of determining who should serve in that particular role. Jealousy or worries about an abuse of power can often lead to arguments about serving as a personal representative of an estate. Courts will often defer to this nomination in a will instead of having to make a determination as to who would be best to serve as a personal representative of an estate.
While implementing these estate planning documents can go a long way to quell any potential family disputes, it is still important for the parent to communicate his or her decision to the children. This communication allows all of the children to be on the same page as to the decisions that have been made. For instance, a parent may choose to leave a family heirloom to one child over another for specific reasons. By communicating his or her rationale, the parent can ensure that all of the children are aware of the reasoning behind the specific gift.
If you have questions about Tennessee estate planning, contact our Nashville estate planning attorneys at The Higgins Firm.