One of the biggest reasons for an estate dispute is that one person feels the distributions were unfair. A daughter feels like she was given less than her brothers, for example, and thinks she deserves an equal portion.
This can happen for many reasons, but it’s important to remember that the value of certain portions of an estate can change. It’s wise to write a will early — decades before you’ll need it — but you may want to update it to reflect any current changes.
For example, perhaps you have three children, a daughter and two sons. Your daughter has always loved the beach house more than your sons, and you know it. She’s also well-off financially, while they struggle a bit more.
You sold you main home and many other assets as you got older. Your estate is just the beach house and about $600,000. That vacation home is worth $300,000, so you think the estate plan is easy: The house goes to your daughter alone, while $300,000 goes to each son.
The problem is that the real estate market crashes two years before you pass away. You wind up giving your daughter a home that is worth just $180,000, so she feels ripped off, since your sons still get $300,000 each.
In a situation like this, you need to update the will. You may also want to consider other distribution plans, like leaving the beach house jointly to all three kids and giving them all $200,000 so that changes in the real estate market impact everyone’s share equally.
This just one thing to keep in mind when drafting a new will or updating the one you have, and it’s crucial to know all of the proper legal steps to take.
Source: Investopedia, “Avoiding 4 Common Causes of Family Estate Fights,” Barbara E. Weltman, accessed Sept. 1, 2017