How to prevent a dispute over your estate

It’s a well-known story – there’s a death in the family and, when The Last Will and Testament is read, the fights begin. Although this tale isn’t true for many families, it can be devastating when it does, so taking certain steps to ensure it doesn’t happen is important, say New Jersey estate planning attorneys.

  • Remove the element of surprise: It might sound unusual, but talking about your Will and who gets what does a lot to avoid unpleasant surprises after your death. Expecting to receive a certain family heirloom or treasured item when it’s actually going to someone else can lead to hurt feelings and disappointment at an already emotional time. Simple explanations of your decisions help communicate to your loved ones that you aren’t giving something away out of anger or by mistake, creating understanding and avoiding conflict.
  • Have an up-to-date estate plan: Throughout your life, situations, assets and relationships will change – so keep your estate plan regularly updated in line with your current lifestyle and needs. Remember to update your medical directive, financial power of attorney and other documents along with your Will, so that you have a comprehensive estate plan in line with your wishes.
  • Choose the right executor: Being an effective executor is more about having a specific skillset rather than fulfilling a specific role in your family, so don’t choose your eldest child (for example) by default if he or she doesn’t seem up to the task. Look for someone who is honest, highly organized, a good communicator and is able to separate their emotions from their job. If no one in your family seems quite right for the task, choose a qualified, professional executor like an attorney.
  • Be specific: If you want certain conditions put on selling or using assets within a trust, be as specific as you can. This is important for keeping heirlooms in the family rather than selling them off, or keeping certain assets in the trust until minors are of the right age to access them. A good idea is to speak to your attorney about clarifying these goals in clear legal terms that cannot be disputed, avoiding uncertainty for the new trustee and misuse of assets and funds.

Easy, affordable estate planning with NJ attorneys

At Sedita, Campisano & Campisano, LLC, we have over 30 years of experience in New Jersey estate planning law. We can assist you in creating a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney and medical directives, as well as set up trusts appropriate to your specific needs. Contact us today and let us deliver expert estate planning advice to take care of all your wishes – whether your estate is big or small.

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