You are not compelled to give gifts to anyone during your life, and if you do give gifts, what you want to give is entirely up to you. People are supposed to politely accept your decisions and be appreciative for whatever they may receive.
The same principle would logically apply to the process of inheritance planning. However, when you are engaged in your inheritance planning efforts, you may want to be sensitive to the family dynamic that will be left behind in light of your choices.
Every family is unique, and there are many different situations that can exist. If you are particularly close to some family members and somewhat distant from others for one reason or another, you are probably going to act accordingly when you are “slicing up the pie.”
At the same time, if you make inheritance planning decisions that are going to seriously disturb some family members or associates, you may want to take pause.
Estate Challenges and Family Disputes
If people are seriously disgruntled, it can result in estate challenges. When a will is used as an asset transfer vehicle, it would be admitted to probate. Anyone who feels as though the will was not legally executed could challenge the validity of the will during probate.
For example, someone could claim that you were coerced or intimidated, or they could argue that you created the will when you were not of fully sound mind. Even if someone was not entirely disinherited, they could contend that the will was improperly executed.
If there are no formal legal challenges, there could still be hard feelings among family members if someone is extremely upset. Making a statement to a family member by leaving this individual a very limited inheritance can be satisfying on one level, but in the long run, it may not be worth it.
We should look at a misconception while we are going down this road. There are those who are under the impression that you can absolutely prevent an estate challenge if you use a living trust instead of a last will. In reality, this is not the case.
A lawsuit can be initiated to challenge the terms of a living trust, even if there is a no contest clause added to the trust. This clause would disinherit any beneficiary who challenges the trust, but this would not prevent a beneficiary from taking the risk.
We Are Here to Help
In this brief blog post we have provided a bit of food for thought. Sometimes a shred of forgiveness can go a long way to preserve family harmony after you are gone.
If you would like to discuss your estate planning objectives with a licensed professional, we can help. Our firm offers no obligation consultations, and you can send us a message through this page to set up an appointment: Indianapolis IN Estate Planning Attorneys.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.