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What can you do to avoid an inheritance dispute?

You're hoping that the inheritance you leave to your children can be helpful, giving them a better life. But you're worried that, at the same time, it's going to pull the family apart. A dispute can be costly, it can be time-consuming and it can put a rift between your loved ones when they disagree. Sometimes, that rift never heals.

Don't worry. There are things you can do to stop this from happening. They include:

1. Giving out money before you pass away. This way, you and the kids are involved in the process together. You can talk over the gifts and decide what's fair. Children aren't left to squabble with each other. They can talk directly to you.

2. Ensuring that you have a valid will. Passing away without a will is very complicated and can drag the process out. It may also mean that kids and the courts have to try to determine what you would have wanted. This leads to disputes when not everyone agrees. Putting your wishes in a will and filing it well in advance at least ensures that everyone knows what you really wanted.

3. Using creative options to pass money on. In some senses, this keeps the power to decide how money is used in your hands, so there's never a question or any gray area. For instance, if you want to pass money on to the grandchildren for college, you may want to put it in an educational trust. This way, only the grandchildren can use it and it has to be used to pay for school. There are no questions and less chance of a dispute.

The key is to plan in advance. When you know all of the legal options that you have, you can use them to avoid complications down the road.

Source: FindLaw, "3 Tips for Avoiding Inheritance Disputes," Christopher Coble, accessed Nov. 09, 2017

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