Family drama often complicates estate planning

Certain family dynamics can make the estate planning process even more difficult for North Carolina residents. Fighting siblings, spendthrift children and other hostile relatives can raise issues that should be addressed during the actual planning process. Candid conversations during life and a letter of wishes left for reading after death can ease the difficulties. However, many issues can be addressed directly via estate planning instruments.

When it comes to giving money or other assets to siblings who are fighting, parents may be wise to explain their goals, perceptions and reasons for distributing assets in a particular way. The tension between siblings could increase if the parent names just one child to act as a trustee for assets owned by the others. Naming an impartial trustee, like a bank or law firm, can avoid such complications.

In blended family situations where there are children from two or more relationships, letters of wishes can be especially important. These documents can help prevent squabbles about the intentions of the decedent by making those aims explicit. Similarly, establishing a family foundation can bring family members together in pursuit of a cause.

Spendthrift heirs can be provided for via staggered payment structures or earmarking funds for specific purposes. For example, the heir might only receive payments for education expenses or to buy property.

With help from an attorney, the estate planning process can go a lot easier. Legal counsel could examine the facts of the situation and suggest trusts or other instruments to ease the process of asset distribution. An attorney may also draft legal documents to reflect the needs and goals of the client.