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Dividing your estate: Reducing conflict

Inheritance fights are a significant concern among some parents. As they plan their estates, they worry that their children will end up fighting over what they leave behind. Parents don't want to put their children in that position, so they best thing they can do is to create a solid estate plan.

Money is a common cause of family fights. No one wants to think that a parent gave more to one child over another or gave away the money completely. The reality is that no matter what the children think, a parent's wishes should be honored.

How can you make your estate foolproof?

First, start early. Once you know what you want to do, have a family meeting to talk about it. It may feel uncomfortable to talk about death, but if you speak about your plans with your heirs ahead of time, there's less likely to be a fight later on. Explaining yourself isn't necessary; stick to the basics and remember that you're in charge of your estate.

Next, divide the estate equally among your children. Equal distribution is the least likely to cause problems among children and heirs. You should also talk about what the children expect and set them straight if you think their expectations are too high.

By talking about your estate early, it's easier to address potential concerns. A good estate plan is legally binding, helping prevent legal battles and keeping your heirs in line. Without an estate plan, you could be opening up a can of worms that is impossible to seal.

Source: AARP, "How to Avoid Inheritance Fights Among Your Adult Kids," Mary W. Quigley, accessed June 12, 2018

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