For New Jersey residents who spend their lives carefully accumulating wealth with the intention of passing down an inheritance to loved ones, few things are more distressing than the thought of their family members fighting over those assets. Yet without proper planning, many families will encounter strife over an inheritance. In the worst outcomes, estate litigation can eat away at an inheritance until there is little left to divide between parties.
Every family has a unique set of family dynamics. In some cases, tensions are clearly expressed, and everyone knows where they stand. In other instances, those tensions run deep, and there’s little outward sign of conflict. Blended families and long-standing estrangements are just some of the examples of scenarios where things can go wrong.
Choosing the right trustee is one way to reduce the risk of estate litigation. The individual should be financially responsible but also fair and reasonable. A trustee has a great deal of power, and it’s important that he or she wields that power fairly. Another way to reduce the risk of litigation is to hold family meetings where the estate plans are discussed in detail. When everyone knows what to expect, tensions and resentment can be worked out well in advance, and it becomes more difficult to challenge the estate plan.
For those in New Jersey who are concerned about the prospect of estate litigation, taking steps to prevent that outcome is important. Through careful decision-making and thorough communications, it’s possible to create an estate plan that serves its intended purpose. This can help everyone involved feel comfortable that things will play out as planned, and that there will be no nasty surprises down the road.