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Estate planning can help avoid conflicts among family members

Most Delaware residents know that conflicts are inevitable in families. However, those conflicts do not need to arise after a loved one has passed away and the time has come to divide the estate. Situations like this are when estate planning is invaluable.

It is nearly impossible to please everyone. One person might believe that the inheritance left by a loved one who has passed away is not enough. Another heir might feel slighted because he or she did not receive anything at all. Even when an individual explains why an estate plan is executed in a certain way, it does not mean that one or more of the heirs will not attempt to contest it during the probate process.

In order to reduce the potential for conflicts, many people will include provisions in their estate-planning documents to discourage probate battles. These "no-contest" provisions can reduce or deny an inheritance to anyone who contests a will. This might seem harsh to some Delaware residents, but the longer an executor has to spend in court defending a will, the fewer assets will be available for distribution to heirs and beneficiaries.

Including no-contest provisions in a will might not be enough to ensure that there are as few reasons to contest it as possible. Estate planning is not over once the initial set of documents is executed. The plan needs to be reviewed periodically or when a major life event, such as marriage, divorce or the birth of children, occurs in order to keep it up to date. It might take some time and effort to ensure that an estate plan will not give rise to battles during probate, but it will help reduce the stress on surviving family members during an already stressful time.

Source: washingtonblade.com, "Myths of estate planning", Lawrence S. Jacobs, Aug. 12, 2016

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