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Defensive moves to prevent fights over your will, part 2

In our last post, we discussed some of the fights that can arise during the estate administration process. Whether children question if you intentionally disinherited one of them, or they believe that you unintentionally left a larger portion of the estate to one child - there are things you can do proactively to reduce the chances of will contests after your death.

Our last post discussed the importance of treating people who have the same degree of relationship to you equally. That includes treating your kids equally, your siblings equally and your grandchildren equally. Today we have three more suggestions to help you prevent fights over your will.

Decide ahead of time which child gets which treasure. Although many people agree that they want their tangible assets divided equally, that is often a recipe for fights. Some estate planning lawyers suggest listing exactly who should receive what treasure. In situations where items don't appreciate or depreciate in value, it may be appropriate to give your loved ones their gifts while you're still living.

Making a list of loans or large gifts given to your children can also help avoid fights after your death. It is important to specify whether you want those loans forgiven or repaid after your death. For example, if you gave one of your children $50,000 to use as a down payment on his or her house, you might change your will so the $50,000 comes out of that child's portion of the estate.

Finally, before you leave your loved ones large gifts, it is important to make sure you actually own those items. Although it sounds obvious, it is can be easy to overlook some items. For example, if you own vacation property jointly, it will automatically go to the joint owner on your death, regardless of what you specify in your will.

Read more in an upcoming post to learn a few more things you can do to help prevent fights over your will.

Source: Forbes, "10 Ways to Lawsuit-Proof Your Estate," Ashlea Ebeling, 13 July 2011

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