Individuals with high-value estates understand the importance of comprehensive estate planning. The smallest mistake could cost a family thousands of dollars in taxes or months stuck in probate court. However, even the best estate plan cannot account for the actions of a disgruntled heir.

Sometimes children of large families may feel overlooked in their inheritance. Sometimes, these feelings can fester into resentment. When combined with the grief of losing a parent, these emotions may inspire rash decisions, like filing a claim against the will. What can parents do to prevent these contests?

How transparent estate planning helps heirs understand

Large families may benefit from transparent estate planning. This drafting process allows children and heirs insight into their parents’ decisions while allowing room for questions and opinions. Transparent estate planning is a three-step process:

  1. Find a capable lawyer: The higher value the estate, the higher demand for a reliable lawyer. Estate planning lawyers must sort through dozens of different legal documents, insurance policies and deeds to assemble a plan that can endure creditors, probate court and estate taxes. Accountants or other financial professionals may offer recommendations for lawyers experienced with complex estate plans.
  2. Draw up a financial overview: A financial overview helps simplify the estate plan for the beneficiaries, providing enough information to reduce skepticism and increase trust. An overview contains a complete list of assets, liabilities and insurance policies; the listed beneficiaries; names of legal and financial professionals familiar with the estate; login information for important websites; and a letter that addresses non-financial items like family heirlooms or collectibles.
  3. Hold a meeting with family: A family meeting allows a person to address their heirs directly. The decedent can outline the basics of the plan while emphasizing the need for communication and transparency. Parents can also introduce the estate executor. Primarily, this meeting allows heirs to ask direct questions and voice concerns before it is too late. A meeting allows siblings to work out potential difficulties with conversation and compromise before committing to legal action.

Get started on the estate plan today

Individuals looking for more options in their estate planning can find answers with a local attorney familiar with Michigan’s estate laws. An attorney can recommend executors, draft comprehensive legal documents and work with the probate court.