Kathryn T. Joseph & Associates, Inc.

Estate planning strategies for reducing tension among heirs

When someone passes in Ohio, sometimes surviving family members are dissatisfied with how the departed distributed the estate. Hostile arguments or even lawsuits might result, but estate planning professionals have some suggestions for limiting family disputes and dividing assets fairly.

Involving the family members presents one strategy. A person could prepare an inventory of assets and heirlooms. Through a round robin process, each heir gets the chance to pick one or more items off the inventory lists. A random drawing might determine who gets to go first. With this approach, heirs feel like they get to express their wishes, and the person preparing a will gets to know that heirs received that which was truly important to them.

Another approach uses the concept of play money. A person assigns each beneficiary a fictional amount of money to buy items from an estate. Appraisals can be done beforehand to determine the values of assets. After heirs have made their purchases, the items can be transferred while the person lives, or they can be recorded in the will.

A will can also contain a letter of explanation. This information might soothe hurt feelings among heirs by explaining reasons behind distribution decisions. For example, one heir might receive more assets because a disability reduces that person's ability to earn income.

Someone who wants more information about preparing wills could consult an attorney. In addition to advice about managing the expectations of heirs, an attorney could research tax obligations and suggest strategies for protecting assets. Legal support could help the person develop a will that meets legal standards and reduces the chances of its terms being overturned in court during a legal challenge. After the person considers information and makes decisions, the attorney could write the will.

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Kathryn T. Joseph & Associates, Inc.
Executive Commons West
29425 Chagrin Blvd.
Suite 305
Cleveland, OH 44122

Toll Free: 888-335-6650
Phone: 216-245-0504
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