How Estate Planning Helps You Avoid Family Feuds

  • Estate Planning
How Estate Planning Helps You Avoid Family Feuds | estate and probate legal group

You may know exactly who you want to give your assets to after you pass away, and you may know why. But that doesn’t mean others understand your decisions. Without a legal will or trust, your hard-earned money and belongings may go to the wrong person—and the confusion may cause family fights. When you work with an attorney to do things properly, estate planning helps you avoid family feuds.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning can be as simple as having 3 legal documents: a will, a power of attorney and a health care directive. Or it may be more in-depth and also include a trust and financial vehicles for funding such as life insurance, retirement accounts and more.

Let’s look at the 3 minimum required documents in your estate plan.

Will or Trust

  • How you want to distribute your assets now and after you are gone
  • Name legal guardians for your minor children
  • Who should take in your pets
  • Any charities that you wish to make donations

Power of Attorney 

This legal document allows someone else to act on your behalf. You can choose the level of authorization based on the type of power of attorney.

  • General – gives the person overall authorization.
  • Durable/nondurable – this takes effect after a named event (such as you are injured and incapacitated).
  • Springing – this is good for business events, such as allowing someone to purchase property in another country on your behalf.
  • Financial – the person can take care of your bills, but not make legal decisions for you.

Healthcare Directive

It allows the person to make medical decisions on your behalf. It also lets your doctors and staff understand your medical wishes such as:

  • Medical treatments
  • Surgery options
  • End-of-life care
  • organ donation

Having these 3 legal documents in your estate plan can help avoid family feuds. However, a robust plan considers other items. If you have a life insurance policy that you have named your son as the beneficiary, you may want to leave the house and property to your daughter. Having an estate plan that works together is just as important as having an estate plan.

How Estate Planning Helps You Avoid Family Feuds

Other documents must work in conjunction with your will or trust. Your life insurance, retirement plans and some financial accounts are not included in the will or trust. This is because you have already chosen the beneficiaries. When you opened your life insurance, you named your beneficiary. What happens if you accidentally forget this and put your life insurance in your will – but have a differently named beneficiary? You have just started a legal family feud.

This is why working with an experienced estate planning attorney is recommended rather than attempting a DIY will. An attorney can help you realize how all legal documents must work together to give you a strong and secure estate plan and help you avoid family feuds. Plus, DIY internet forms may not meet local laws on handling your documents properly – and again, leading to family fights. Did you know that Aretha Franklin left only a hand-written will, and it took 5 years for the family to determine the legal heirs? Don’t do this. It will be so much easier for your loved ones if you have a legal estate plan.

Oak Brook Estate Planning Attorney

An Illinois estate planning lawyer can help you write your will to avoid family feuds after you are gone. To talk to a qualified attorney in the Chicago area, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835

Areas We Serve: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties.