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Avoiding Family Conflicts

Estate litigation is a lengthy process.  On average, a lawsuit will take 2 or 3 years to resolve.  Due to the lengthy timeline of the estate litigation process, it can be helpful to be aware of the following in order to avoid potential future conflicts.

Create An Estate Plan

Uncertainty and conflict are bound to come to the surface if you do not create an estate plan.  For example, if you do not leave a will, the intestate laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will be followed in deciding who is entitled to your property.  Clear up any confusion proactively by preparing your will and estate plan with the assistance of a trusted estate planning attorney.  If you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney and become incapacitated, a Guardian of your Person and Estate will have to be appointed through a court administered proceeding.

Anticipate Disagreements

It is usually unwise to leave it up to your children to decide how to handle your affairs.  It is hard to be unbiased when it comes to family, but even if you are right in assuming that your children get along now, circumstances do change.  For reasons that might have nothing to do with contempt or ill-will, your children may not see eye to eye on certain issues.  For example, if your son’s wife suddenly becomes ill, his needs will become different from those of your daughter.  The best course of action you can take to protect your family is to make the difficult decisions now and set them forth in legal documents that your family will be required to follow

Communicate Your Wishes

Few rules apply to every estate planning situation and the same applies to how you decide to communicate your plan to your beneficiaries.  It is generally a good idea to explain some or all of your estate plan to your loved ones as it can help to ease tension after you are gone.  This is your opportunity to explain your reasoning and intentions but not to justify your decisions.  Taking the time and opportunity to explain your estate plan is particularly useful if you decide to treat your children differently in the plan which is often the case when there are assets such as a family business or land that cannot be divided up equally amongst your heirs.

Communication is also important if some of your children live close by while others live further away and may feel left out.  It is up to you, what and how you would like to communicate to your children, but know that it can help to resolve the issues that arise from hurt feelings and lack of understanding.

Our trusted estate planning attorneys in Pittsburgh are here to help.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you prepare your estate plan and avoid family conflicts in the future.