You have hired an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney and you have discussed, planned, and implemented a trust that you feel confident in. While it is hoped that a smart planning strategy will resolve any anticipated conflicts between you and your beneficiaries, there’s always the chance of an heir challenging the trust after your death due to their wishes not being met.
An example: Typically, after the passing of the second parent’s death, all family members may not agree on the financial decisions to be made by the trustee when the family home – a major asset of the estate – is appraised and sold at market value. One or more of the beneficiaries may be unsatisfied with the proposed sale of the home (wanting it to stay in the family), or even with the sale price itself. This may provoke a challenge to the trust, which can be a long and costly delay in the distribution of assets, and legal costs could reduce a sizeable portion of the estate.
While communicating your wishes about the distribution of your assets with your children and heirs well in advance is the ideal way for any individual to handle this situation, we understand that it can be a difficult subject to approach. But the chances of a beneficiary challenging the trust after the death of a loved one can be significantly reduced when all parties to the trust are aware of the parent’s intentions.
To help ease the discomfort of discussing financial arrangements, you may want to consider inviting your Estate Planning attorney to meet with you and your heirs when you choose to have that discussion. A third party who understands the needs and wants of the parents and appreciates the consequences to their heirs can be an effective resource in helping to avoid uncomfortable conflicts. Addressing concerns in the comfort of your home, or even away from it in a neutral location, allows everyone to voice their thoughts, understand how the trust affects them as a beneficiary, and any disagreements can be tackled and resolved upfront. While we recognize that this is a difficult conversation to have, everyone benefits by avoiding conflicts, court challenges, and delays later when the trustee is administering and distributing the assets; and most importantly, the family comes together. You may be surprised to find out just how relieved your heirs are to learn that you have thought of everything and everyone!
Let us know how we can help you. Call our office to schedule an appointment to talk to Russ about how we may guide you in talking to your heirs, or to schedule an appointment to bring everyone together.