We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog discussing some of the pitfalls that can land an estate plan in hot water. Concerns over competency, vague or ambiguous terms and even fraud can all draw the validity of an estate plan into question. Yet, those issues may not be the biggest threat to Arizonans estate plans. Instead, infighting amongst family members could be the biggest cause of derailed estate plans.
A recent survey found that nearly half of accountants, attorneys and trust officers listed internal family conflict as the number one risk to estate plans. One reason for this is because families are becoming more blended and diverse. People divorce and remarry, children are adopted and grandparents are raising grandchildren. These changing familial landscapes can cause an individual to rethink how he or she wants to leave his or her assets, and it may not be in a way that conforms with the law’s default or familial expectations.
One way to avoid having one’s estate put at risk is to deal with familial conflict up front. By doing so, an individual may be able to get to the heart of the matter and devise a way to allow the estate plan to be fair, even if not equal. Addressing conflict up front can also avoid the surprise that may otherwise come from one’s passing, thereby mitigating the risks of post-death litigation. Another crucial step to take to avoid risk is to keep estate plans updated. Anytime there is a marriage, death or birth, the estate plan should be considered so as to avoid any unwanted and any unintended outcomes.
Estate planning can be fraught with legal challenges over time, and it may seem overwhelming when trying to figure out how to avoid them. However, those who acquire the assistance of an experienced attorney can rest assured that their initial plan is built to suit their needs, and any modifications will be made in a way that furthers those individuals’ best interests while remaining clear and legally valid.