Many children have expectations regarding what they will get from their parents when they pass away. One major cause of estate disputes between heirs and beneficiaries is when these expectations are not met.
For instance, some children expect the division of assets to be completely equal. If they feel like one child got slightly more than another, a complicated dispute begins. In other cases, one child may have a very specific asset that he or she expects to get -- a family heirloom, perhaps -- and could then start a dispute when it goes to someone else.
What can the parents do? They need to work at managing these expectations. Remember, the way that parents communicate with their kids about their estate plans plays a huge role in what the children believe and expect.
Good communication can stop disputes before they begin. If two heirs think they are both going to get the same item in the estate plan, there may be a way to work things out if they find out about the confusion before reading the will. Parents who are open and honest can start helpful conversations and make sure that there are no surprises in the end. Surprises often cause disputes and are best avoided if at all possible.
Naturally, this will not stop all disputes between heirs and beneficiaries. Estate planning is complex and family dynamics come into play. Some individuals will do almost anything for economic gain. It is very important for all involved to understand the legal steps that must be taken along the way.