Think no one in your family will fight over your estate after you’ve died? Here is PART 1 of The Seven Warning Signs of a Potential Estate Battle.

Warning sign # 1: SIBLING RIVALRY.  Mom (or Dad) always liked you best.  Yeah, but Dad paid for your wedding.  Yeah, but he paid for YOUR college.  Yeah, but Mom bought you a new car. Yeah, but you got braces and I didn’t. etc. etc.

ADDRESS IT BY: While you probably can do nothing to force your children play nicely together, you can help mitigate the effects by appointing a professional fiduciary to administer your estate or at least someone not associated with the rivalry.

Warning sign #2:   ADVANCING MONEY OR BENEFIT TO ONE HEIR BUT NOT OTHERS.  Did you help pay off a child’s college loan? Give a child start-up money for his new business venture? Put down-payment money on a child’s first home? Help bail a child out from credit card debt? Front the lawyer’s fee for a child’s divorce?

ADDRESS IT BY: If it is your intention that these are indeed “advancements” meaning they are early gifts/part of their inheritance, then let the child know this up front and include clear language in your will or Trust to that effect so there can be no doubt as to your intent. If it is simply a gift to one that wasn’t similarly bestowed upon the others and there is to be no offset from the recipient’s final inheritance, there are probably going to be some bad feelings between the heirs after you are gone.

(To Be Continued)