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Sometimes, estate planning can involve complex issues, such as dividing land among family members. Ohio residents who are in this position sometimes make mistakes during the process.

Whenever testators leave a piece of property to all their heirs, the recipients are considered to be tenants in common. While the idea may seem sound, problems can arise when family members disagree among themselves about how to manage the property. For instance, if some of the family members want to use the land to raise cattle, but one has other plans, nothing can be done with the property until they all unanimously agree, since each owner has complete rights to occupy the property.

One way to solve this problem would be to go to court and equally divide the land among the co-owners by giving each one an individual parcel. If the court will not allow this to be done, a judge may order the property to be auctioned, and the owners would get a share of the proceeds.

Another way to solve the conflict is to avoid it in the first place through careful estate planning. Through forethought and planning tools, people can evenly divide their assets, such as a family business or ranch, in a way that will ensure all the beneficiaries are satisfied.

While a will is a vital part of an estate planning process, it does not deal with all aspects of an individual’s assets. Because there is more to think about than simply equally dividing up assets among beneficiaries, those who have large assets might consider speaking with an experienced lawyer about various options. Careful estate planning may keep family members from feuding, which may lead to costly litigation.

Source: Cattle Network, “A Simple Will is Not so Simple”, Brent Haden, Dec. 5, 2016