Estate planning tools can help minimize a family's tax obligation in the future. However, Virginia residents and others may also want to consider how family dynamics could influence the effectiveness of an estate plan. For instance, siblings who don't like each other may not make their feelings known until their parents pass away. In one case, a $1 million inheritance became a $400,000 inheritance because of family infighting.
In addition to fights between brothers and sisters, children may believe that they will inherit from their parents even if they don't have a strong relationship with them. Parents could also cause jealousy among children by picking one to be a trustee. The other children may feel as if a parent is playing favorites by doing so. It may also be possible that the chosen adult child is not good at managing money or has an ego problem.
Ideally, an independent trustee will be chosen who can act as an objective fiduciary. Individuals who are looking to pass down their wealth should hold family meetings on a regular basis. This can help a family collectively decide what type of structure an estate plan should take to meet everyone's needs. Individuals should be transparent about the process from start to finish to reduce the odds of a fight.
Those who are looking to make the most of their assets may want to engage in estate planning as soon as possible regardless of how much money or how many assets they have. An attorney may be able to help draft a will, trust or other documents that an individual wants or needs to create. Having clear instructions may prevent family infighting or other legal challenges to an estate plan.