While battles over image and likeness rights are reserved for the rich and famous, the others are common battle-grounds for dysfunctional families, especially in second-marriage situations. Many people mistakenly believe that only the wealthy end up fighting. Sadly, it’s far more common than most people realize – even for families of very modest wealth.

Is there anyone in your life that knows you so well that they could carry out your wishes when you are no longer here? Unfortunately, even those closest to you may get it wrong. Is it worth the risk?

These people and more may try to “help” with your estate, unless you leave a clear and unambiguous will that specifically states your intentions for your belongings and describes in detail how you want your estate distributed.

For an example of what can happen, consider the case of the late Nelson Mandela, as this issue was taken up in a recent Forbes article titled “Will Nelson Mandela’s Heirs Tarnish His Legacy Through Greed And Fighting?

Closer to home, someday you may have close relations or friends trying to divide up your assets in a way that was never intended-or you may have relatives you’ve never met claiming a right to some or all of your estate. Others who feel they know you the best might try to help interpret the will to their own benefit.

Avoid hard feelings, strain on already delicate emotions, and fighting among your relatives and friends by consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney. A qualified attorney can help you determine the best ways to handle your estate, so you are explicit in your directions. The directions include how the estate should be probated, whether alternatives should be considered to avoid probate, and also to find strategies that will provide for the greatest return for your loved ones.

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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