When you think about your children’s lives after you pass away, one of your main goals is probably ensuring that things go smoothly. You want them to support each other in the wake of your passing. You want them to stay close for years to come. You want that tight family group that you’ve created to stay that way, and you don’t want anything to come between them.
Unfortunately, the reality is that children may end up fighting over your estate and your assets. When this happens, it can put a gulf between them that never really goes away. It can cause emotional wounds that never heal. In the worst cases, siblings go their separate ways and never speak to one another again.
How can you prevent this? The process starts with an understanding of why it happens. Here are two potential reasons:
1. You pick one of your children as the estate executor
While administering your estate, that child technically has something to gain. If it appears to the other kids that things fall in that child’s favor, they may think that it’s not fair. It could be due to preference given to that child in the estate plan or due to fraud on the part of the executor. Even if there is no preference or fraud, just the appearance can cause arguments and even will contests.
How can you prevent it? While choosing a child is easiest for you, it may be hardest for your family. Consider finding a third party who will gain nothing and can therefore remain neutral.
2. You do not specify which assets go to which child
You may think that it’s easiest to just tell the kids to divide your assets fairly, especially when talking about trinkets and items with sentimental value. Putting your financial assets into the will makes sense, but do you really have to list out every single thing you own?
Kids will often fight more over sentimental items than anything else. The problem is that even or fair division isn’t possible. With three children and one piece of artwork that they all remember from growing up in your home, they can’t split it up.
You have a few potential solutions. The first, of course, is to make an estate plan that specifies what should happen with each asset. Leave no doubt. The second is to liquidate these assets before you pass away. It’s easier to split up money than unique items.
If you’re a parent creating an estate plan or a child embroiled in an estate dispute or a will contest, it is crucial that you know your rights and your legal options in Illinois.