Preparing a strong estate plan can make a significant difference in the lives of loved ones after a person’s death. However, if the will is poorly considered, recorded or communicated, it is possible that estate plans can cause family conflict and even estate litigation. Here are a few tips for Ontario estate planners and family members seeking to have a conflict-free transition of wealth.
The most important thing to do when preparing estate plans is to think carefully about who is named executor. Instead of defaulting to the oldest child, make an informed decision based on all possible candidates. Is the executor reliable? Do the individuals under consideration have the time, skills, and relationships needed for the job? An unreliable or shady executor can often end in conflict or a court battle between families.
It is also a good idea to consider personal property in estate plans, even if items carry limited financial value. Items that carry emotional attachments can be the most contentious in estate execution, and the legal ambiguity of items not specifically listed in a will can cause long-term conflict within families. Communicating with all beneficiaries about what items are most important to each person and clarifying wishes in person while preparing a will is a good idea.
There are many other common causes of conflict, such as unequal bequests or overly restrictive trusts. Clear communication about why decisions were made and adherence to Ontario estate law can help someone prevent problems within the family. Those who are facing estate litigation due to family conflict, unclear wills or other issues should speak with an Ontario lawyer about the situation.