One of the broken realities of life and death is that family members don’t always agree. Especially on what is the best course of action after their parents are gone. Sadly, family inheritance disputes are not just an issue for the famous and rich, or for big families. Even when there’s little or no money at stake, or no third marriages with kids that are “hers, his, and ours,” survivors still fight about issues such as who should be liable for raising the deceased’s minor kids, the disposition of sentimental personal property, even who gets the pet cats and dogs.
So with this in mind, here are some approaches to employ now that could help solve these issues before they appear or scatter them before they cause irreversible damage.
Five Approaches to Resolve Family Conflict
- Communicate Early and Regularly: Without a doubt, the most critical thing you can do to avoid family disputes is to open communication lines and keep them that way. It is also one of the hardest things to achieve and is often ignored because of that. While everyone is wholesome, arrange to get your family together at least once every year to review and discuss your inheritance plans and wishes. Let them know what you are picturing and how you expect them to cooperate.
- Legal Documents: Of course, it is also imperative to have all your legal and financial documents accurately executed and up to date. Powers of attorney, Health care directives, trusts, wills, net worth statements, and insurance policies should all be organized and readily accessible to handle situations as they come.
- Put Everything In Writing: Personal letters of direction should also be written to speak your thoughts with your family and draft any specific funeral or burial preferences, property distributions, and any other items you feel are essential. Having this stuff recorded in writing can be a friendly reminder after you are gone, as grief is a strong emotion and can cause loved ones to ignore details.
- Dispossessing: If you are one of the minorities of families with a will or need to evict a family member, ensure that you take the appropriate legal steps to adequately disclose and explain your actions in the event this exclusion will create a family dispute. Your written statement and legal steps here can be a significant step in your inheritance planning.
- Dispute Resolution Person: Finally, it is an excellent idea to select an honest, non-related person to be available if needed to act as a mediator or dispute resolution person. Let your family know who this person will be in advance and resolve that you expect them to adhere and cooperate with any decisions made by this individual. Ideally, this individual should not be related to the family, at least 15 years younger than you, and valued by your loved ones. If such a person exists, great. If not, do your best to find one.
Grief causes emotions to flow, and this can make families respond foolishly. If you ready your loved ones early and keep communication lines open, you will have a great opportunity to entirely avoid family disputes. By implementing all five strategies above, you will be able to resolve or prevent any possible problems that may arise.