Estate planning can be a challenge for anyone. Because each person's life is different, his or her estate plan is also different, which means that you and everyone else will have unique factors to consider when trying to find the best way to express your end-of-life wishes.
Some factors that can complicate estate planning include rare assets, substantial wealth or business succession. However, your concerns may fall elsewhere, like with your family dynamics. This concern is valid because difficult family relationships can easily cause issues to come up when trying to settle your final affairs, or possibly even before.
What are your concerns?
The best way to handle the potential for family conflict is to first identify where those conflicts are most likely to occur. Do you have multiple children who never learned to get along? Do you have stepchildren or children from a second marriage that may compete with your biological children or those from a previous marriage? Do you have a potential heir who spends money quicker than he or she earns it? All of these are possible issues that could arise, and fortunately, you can take steps to address them.
You may take some of the following actions to address certain difficult dynamics:
- Sibling rivalry could be addressed by keeping each child's affairs separate, naming an unbiased third party to act as executor or trustee, and explaining your decisions before the time comes to put them into action.
- Issues between biological children, stepchildren or stepparents could be addressed by, again, discussing your wishes ahead of time or creating a family foundation to bring your loved ones together.
- The spendthrift heir can be handled by setting up a trust that allows you to continue to have control over the use of any assets even after you are gone. Your trust can offer incentives for certain behaviors, stagger payments or stipulate that assets only go toward specific expenses.
These examples are just a few of the many family concerns you may have and how you could choose to handle them.
Planning for your family
If your concerns go beyond those listed here, do not feel out of luck. As mentioned, each person and each plan is different, and a number of planning options can help address unique concerns. In order to find the best planning path for your particular estate, you may wish to gain insight from a California estate planning attorney.