Could parents reduce the chances of probate disputes?

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2021 | Probate Litigation |

When parents engage in estate planning, they may have strong opinions about leaving assets to their children. As probate arrives, the siblings might feel unhappy about the decisions. Perhaps one sibling receives perceived preferential treatment. Disappointment and anger could lead to challenges in Minnesota probate court. Parents hoping to prevent such incidents might find it necessary to take proactive steps.

Careful estate planning and preventive steps

Parents might find it necessary to figure out how to divide assets thoughtfully. If one sibling maintains a stronger connection to heirlooms or a specific property, parents will want to make sure the items go to the “appropriate” person.

Leaving real estate, jewelry, paintings and other physical property might create problems and disputes. Maybe the will could order all physical property to go up for sale and the assets be divided equally. Doing so may eliminate confusion, arguments and questions about whether to sell belongings and when.

Dealing with contentious matters

Not everything needs to go through probate. Some investment assets could move to a brokerage account with one sibling named as a joint account holder. The assets could pass without probate, and the other siblings may not even be aware of their existence.

The law allows for a set amount of $15,000 tax-free gifts per year. As someone ages or their health takes an undesirable turn, maybe giving away $15,000 worth of property or funds per year could avoid probate issues.

One sibling might fall out of their parent’s favor and end up disinherited. Waiting until probate for the sibling to discover such information could prove disastrous. If a sibling is not in a will or won’t receive specific property, letting the sibling know long before a parent’s passing could prove helpful. At the very least, doing so may make it harder for them to make a frivolous challenge. Noting such an action with the estate planning attorney may further address a potential court challenge.

Probate challenges could be stressful for surviving relatives. Rather than take chances with family rifts developing, parents should consider ways to defuse disagreements among siblings.