The unfortunate reality is that families sometimes find themselves at odds during the estate administration process. They don’t agree on the process, they think other people are only looking out for themselves and they’re already going through an emotional time — seeing as how they have just lost a parent. When disagreements get too contentious, some siblings never speak again.
How can this be avoided? There are a few key ways to do it for both those making the estate plan and those handling the administration of that estate.
Create a plan
The single most important thing any parent can do to avoid a dispute is to make a plan and to make sure it’s complete. Many, many disputes happen when the children do not have a plan they can look to and they have to work together to make decisions. They are bound to disagree. A solid plan may still not give them what they want, but they won’t disagree with each other.
Involve a third party
When an administrator is at odds with his or her siblings, the best thing to do is often to bring in a third party. It’s too easy for beneficiaries to assume that other beneficiaries only want what is best for them. They’ll never be happy with the decisions that are made. If a third party makes that decision with nothing to gain, they’re more likely to trust it.
Keep communication open
When siblings do have to work together, communication is critical. They need to discuss plans, solutions, assets and points of contention. If someone feels like they’re being cut out of the process, things can grow heated. Even when it’s hard, communication is necessary. In the long run, siblings who act like a team are more likely to have a positive outcome.
Navigating a difficult situation
If you and your family are having a difficult time with any part of this process, you must understand the legal options at your disposal.