Inheritance planning is an essential part of smart financial planning. When there is a family business or significant assets have been acquired which must pass upon death, the issues that arise can be tense for all parties. Both those who stand to inherit and those who are concerned about the legacy they are leaving behind may be frightened of the disagreements that can arise in inheritance planning, as there is a very real risk that families will be torn apart when there are significant assets at stake.
The good news is, you do not need to allow fear to impact your inheritance planning. You need to be informed, make smart choices, and understand your rights and your options in order to overcome fear. Having a solid plan in place allows you to ensure everyone is on the same page, reducing the potential for conflict and removing a major source of worry. An experienced Cincinnati estate planning lawyer at Zimmer Law Firm understands the process of helping clients with inheritance planning and can provide guidance to families facing this challenge.
Fear Can Affect Inheritance Planning
Fear plays a role in inheritance planning for many individuals and families, with different parts of the family facing different concerns.
Those who are creating an estate plan and determining who will inherit may be subject to undue influence or even financial abuse. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 41 out of 1,000 seniors responding to a survey indicated they had been victimized by major financial exploitation. The rates of financial exploitation were higher than the self-reported rates of neglect or of various other types of abuse including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In the vast majority of cases when abuse occurs, family members are the perpetrators. In fact, 90 percent of abused elders were victimized by a family member, which was usually an adult child or a spouse or partner.
It is very important to ensure there is no coercion, extortion, or abuse going on when an estate plan and/or a last will and testament is created. A will must be made voluntarily, and it can be challenged after death based on allegations of undo influence. An individual who works with an estate planning lawyer to help create a will can reduce the chances of being coerced into acting because an estate planning lawyer will be on the lookout for signs something is out-of-the ordinary or wrong.
A person who is creating an estate plan may also be afraid that his or her wishes will not be respected, and that family fighting will occur after death. Sometimes, no contest clauses are included in a will in order to try to head off disagreements as family matriarchs or patriarchs are concerned about what will happen to family bonds. Even a no contest clause, however, is no guarantee that heirs (or potential heirs) won’t challenge a will after a death Providing detailed guidance and instructions, or even exploring ways to transfer assets outside of the probate process, could be a solution for individuals who are concerned their children or other family members will fight over assets after a death.
Fear is also an issue for potential heirs in estate planning, especially when there are significant assets at stake or when families are large families or blended families. Exclusion is a primary concern for potential heirs, especially step-children who may be concerned they will be left out of inheritances and blood children will be favored. Favoritism is a closely related issue to exclusion, as heirs may be concerned that a favored family member will receive more than his or her fair share of family assets.
Overcoming Fear in Inheritance Planning
Overcoming fear is possible in inheritance planning. The key to overcoming fear is to get informed, and to get appropriate professional legal help. Those who are creating an estate plan should speak with an attorney about how they can reduce the chances of disagreement and how they can make sure their wishes are fully respected. Family members and other potential heirs of someone who has passed away can also consult with legal professionals to find out what options they may have for arguing a will is invalid or for arguing to uphold a last will and testament.
The Cincinnati estate planning lawyers at Zimmer Law Firm have extensive experience with inheritance planning. With our knowledgeable and compassionate legal representation, there is nothing for you to fear about creating a plan for the future. To learn more, contact us at 513.721.1513 or browse our special reports.