How Having an Estate Plan Helps Avoid Conflict Among Heirs

Bloomfield Township estate planning lawyer

Families are often unprepared for the inevitable loss and aging of parents. This leads to unprecedented rivalries that risk or destroy the wealth and family unity that parents and the estate planning lawyer worked so hard to protect. Properly crafted estate plan documents reflect a person’s instructions for ensuring that the proper beneficiaries receive their legacies and care provision for that person and their family.

Unfortunately, not even the best estate plan can substitute preparing heirs in readiness for dealing with: the complexities involved in the administration of a trust and estate, changing care needs of aging parents as well as other family members, and how to resolve or prevent conflict among siblings and avoid elder financial abuse.

The Inevitability of Conflict

Disagreements will always be there among family members, and it is how families manage and prepare for the conflict that will make a difference. In the absence of a process for conflict resolution and communication, the only thing that can happen is a permanent breakdown of family unity and costly litigation.

Parents rarely ever never want to think about conflicts among their children. However, successful families need to participate in foundational processes to prepare heirs for the inevitable loss and aging of their parents. The families participate in planning and education, discussing potential conflicts, and institutionalizing conflict resolution in the presence of a neutral mediator.

The processes help such families reduce family discord or avoid it altogether. Doing this helps to preserve family wealth and unity. Estate planners have a unique chance to weave estate planning mediation into the estate planning process while educating clients along with their families about the benefits they stand to enjoy.

Preparing Heirs by Using Confidential Estate Planning Mediation

Confidential estate planning mediation takes place in the presence of the client, their family, the estate planning attorney, and the mediator. The topics of discussion are limited to those that won’t put lawyer-client privilege at risk. The result of the confidential estate planning mediation is a memorandum of understanding for the client’s family and the estate planning lawyer.

Confidential estate planning mediation meetings provide family members with a platform to express their ideas, concerns, learning, and discussion. This approach helps heirs work out solutions so that they align with the wishes of the parents. Family members involved in such an undertaking are less likely to dispute what they had a hand in crafting.

The memorandum of understanding that comes as a result of the mediation reflects the issues and ideas discussed, proposed solutions, agreements reached, as well as a statement of whether or not the memorandum can be released and to whom. Confidentiality of the memorandum can be waived to allow the sharing of the memorandum with an investment advisor, estate planning lawyer, and other relevant advisors.

Participants can decide to turn to mediation for resolution of future conflicts to matters that might have changed since the first mediation. Family members that may later raise issues with the estate plan will refer to the memorandum that they helped create.

Final Thoughts

Estate planners and their clients have much to benefit from estate planning mediation. Heirs who are sufficiently prepared are less likely to initiate or sustain conflict. Estate planners that encourage mediation reduce the chances for unresolved disputes and misunderstandings, and increase the likelihood of protecting family wealth and unity.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Michigan Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Einheuser Legal, P.C. is an estate planning law firm in Bingham Farms, Michigan. We help families set up wills and living trusts. Attorney Michael Einheuser is an experienced estate planning lawyer serving residents in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Township.

Schedule your free consultation today by calling 248-398-4665.

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