In some families, fighting seems to be the way that siblings relate to one another. If your children have squabbled their entire lives, you likely wish for nothing more than their happiness and to see them have a positive relationship. You probably hate the idea that your estate will eventually cause even worse fighting among your children.
Wanting to prevent squabbles over your estate is a noble intention, but it is more difficult to achieve in Florida than in most other states. This is because Florida does not allow you to add a clause to your will that disinherits anyone who challenges your estate plan.
Is there anything else that you can potentially do to keep your children from dragging your estate through probate and fighting over every tchotchke and penny you leave behind?
Trusts and other probate-bypassing tools can help
The property that you solely own will generally have to go through probate when you die. One of the ways to prevent your assets from passing through probate is to put them in a trust.
People often use their homes, investment funds or life insurance policies to fund a trust. If your major assets are in a trust, it will be much harder for your children to challenge the estate out of spite for one another or jealousy over what the other received.
Other tools could help achieve the same goal. Accounts that transfer on death and certain forms of title for real estate holdings can allow you to move your most significant asset to someone else without the risk of a challenge in probate court.
Talk to your kids about your plans, and consider early distribution
If each of your kids thinks that they’re going to receive the majority of your estate, unhappy shock might motivate them to challenge your wishes in court. The more your children understand about how you structure your estate, the less surprise and disappointment they will feel after you die.
Of course, even those who know your wishes might still challenge them if they think they could get a bigger portion of the estate for themselves. Another possible way for you to prevent such an outcome for your family might involve giving some of your property to your children now for an early inheritance. That way, there will be less to fight about. Additionally, you will have the joy of watching them benefit from the assets you set aside for them.
Whatever tactic you take, thorough estate planning is crucial to avoiding inheritance disputes among your children.