4 Tips For Avoiding Inheritance Conflicts in Your Family

By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

Most people are aware that Idaho estate planning is used to plan for a person’s life and death. When you ask most people about what estate planning should accomplish they will point to the giving of gifts after their death. While this is an important part of estate planning, I often tell my clients at the most important objective or goal of their Idaho estate planning should be to keep peace within the family after they pass away. Their deaths should be an opportunity for their family to come together and comfort one another and to strengthen their relationships with each other. However, I often find that the death of a parent often leads children to bicker and fight over the property that is left in the estate. Here are 4 tips on how to avoid inheritance conflicts in your family.


First, you should be clear and concise with your Idaho estate planning. What I mean by this is you should get help from an Idaho attorney who create a customized Idaho last will and testament with clear statements of your wishes and the directions that your personal representative is to follow. The more clear and concise you can be in your Idaho estate planning the less room there is for your children to fight about what you intended.

Additionally, it really doesn’t matter what you told your children while you were alive. What really matters is what you have written in your Idaho estate planning documents including your last will and testament. If during your life you promised one of your children that they could have a certain item of property, but your last will and testament says something different, the Idaho last will and testament will control. Your child will likely feel that they have been cheated out of the property you promised them. For this reason, I often tell my clients that they shouldn’t have those kinds of discussions with their children, but rather should simply put all the gifts they plan to give in their Idaho last will and testament in clear and concise language.


This leads us to our second tip which is to be specific with the gifts that you give in your Idaho last will and testament. As I help my clients prepare their estate planning I often include and encourage my clients to use a Specific Gift List that is incorporated into their last will and testament. The Specific Gift List gives a parent an opportunity to write down in their own handwriting specifically what the gift is and who the gift is to go to so that there can be no confusion or misunderstanding. By doing this, everyone clearly understand what your intentions are and what gift you are giving to eat specific individual you list.


The third tip for avoiding inheritance conflicts in your family is to update your Idaho estate planning when needed. Your circumstances are likely going to change during your life. Additionally, the circumstances of your children or grandchildren or other beneficiaries could also change. I encourage my clients to update their Idaho last will and testament anytime there is a major life change that they experience.

A major life change would include the birth of a person, the death of a person, the divorce of a person, a person moving away, or just the passage of a great deal of time. Whenever any of these things have occurred I encourage my clients to pull out their Idaho estate planning, read through it, and make sure that it still accomplishes what they want. Often, when a major life change occurs, there is a need to make changes in the estate plan.


The 4th tip on avoiding inheritance conflicts with your family is to do your best to be equal with your gifts both during life and after your death. It may be that you help one of your children more during your life than you help others. This should be taken into consideration when you pass away and the distributions will be made from your Idaho estate.

Many parents make the mistake of providing gifts and help to a certain child during their lives and then give their estate equally to their children when they die. When this happens, the child that you helped during your life will end up receiving more of your estate than your other children. Many of your children will perceive this as being an unfair distribution.

If you have a desire to avoid inheritance conflicts within your family, or you have questions about your own Idaho estate planning, we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at lve@racinelaw.net. We will answer your Idaho Estate Planning questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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