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Easing tensions after the death of a loved one

Many Tennessee families will construct an estate plan that distributes wealth among surviving children. For some families, the division of assets will not be equal, for a variety of reasons. This can lead to a great deal of infighting among siblings, up to and including a legal challenge that follows the death of a loved one. It is important for families to take a proactive approach in reducing the chance of such an outcome.

The best way to get everyone on the same page about the estate planning decisions that have been made is to call a family meeting to discuss the issue. Some families will want to include only their biological children in this meeting, while others feel comfortable including the spouses of each child. It is important to let everyone know the reason for the meeting, so that any questions or concerns can be formulated ahead of time.

Once everyone is gathered, parents should discuss the estate planning decisions that have been made. Each family is unique, and some will delve into detail on their plans, while others will just skim the surface. No matter which approach is chosen, both parents should agree beforehand whether they are willing to entertain the input of their kids during this process, or if the meeting is simply to inform them of the decisions that have already been made.

It can also be helpful to plan a positive close to the meeting, such as a family dinner or a game night. Concluding a serious discussion with a positive experience is a powerful reminder that family is the most important thing, even if Tennessee siblings disagree over the division of wealth that will follow the death of a loved one. This also gives everyone involved a way to demonstrate their love and care toward each other, which can go a long way toward reducing tensions both now and down the line.

Source:, "Communicating an Estate Plan to Heirs", Myron Friesen, March 29, 2016

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