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Accounting for family dynamics while estate planning

Raising children and dealing with family drama can be hard for anyone in California. However, it can be even more complicated in families that have a significant amount of wealth. Parents or grandparents typically have to contend with the fact that each heir has different needs or desires. Therefore, it isn't uncommon for siblings to get into squabbles or for family members to snipe at each other on occasion over the terms of an estate plan.

Siblings may be more likely to battle with each other if one is financially stable and the other is not. However, in some cases, brothers and sisters fight because it's just how they relate to each other. It is a good idea for parents and grandparents to actively communicate why an estate plan is structured as it is. It can also be a good idea for an individual to have a letter of intent that will be read after he or she passes.

Family dynamics should be considered when an estate plan is put into place. For instance, it may not be a good idea for a sibling to be named as an executor or trustee. This may put that person in a position to limit how assets can be used, and the other siblings may go to court if necessary in an effort to get those limits removed.

Paying attention to family dynamics during the estate planning process may make it easier for a plan to be implemented with minimal drama. In some cases, it may be necessary to appoint an attorney or a corporate entity to act as a trustee or to fulfill other important roles. This may enable surviving family members to spend more time processing their loss instead of battling each other in a courtroom.

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