When parents make their estate plan, they may wonder how to reduce sibling estate disputes. When siblings disagree about a parent’s estate, it can create conflict during an emotional time. However, in Minnesota, there are things that a parent can do in order to clarify their wishes and help the process run smoothly.
Work independently to prepare documents
A parent can work independently with their attorney to prepare their estate planning documents. Avoiding the appearance of influence from any child or group of siblings can help reduce conflict and accusations of undue influence that can lead to probate disputes. Discussions with a lawyer can take place privately.
In addition to carrying out final wishes through a will or trust document, a parent can also communicate their wishes directly to children. Parents may speak to each child, separately or together, in order to answer questions and state directly what they want to happen to their estate. Keep in mind, though, that the written document itself is what controls distribution of assets. A parent should carefully review their estate planning documents in order to ensure that they correctly state their wishes for heirs and beneficiaries in addition to telling their children directly.
Review co-ownership and beneficiaries on accounts
It may seem convenient to put a child as a co-owner on a financial account. However, doing so may also give that child full ownership of the account as a beneficiary. Be sure to review who is listed on each account in order to make sure that it truly represents your intent with your estate plan.
Reducing sibling estate disputes with planning
Understanding what causes estate disputes can help you plan for the future. Working independently, speaking with children about your wishes and reviewing co-ownership of existing accounts can reduce conflict. An attorney may assist you with your specific situation to make an estate plan that represents your wishes.