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Will heirs' relationships survive the probate process?

Regardless of how well thought out and executed an estate plan is, things can go awry after the Washington, DC, resident passes away. Many times during the probate process, heirs and beneficiaries find themselves at odds over what they either did or did not inherit from a loved one. Sometimes, the relationships are never repaired.

The question then becomes how to eliminate -- or at least reduce -- the number of conflicts among heirs and beneficiaries. Every Washington, DC, resident has his or her own reasons for how his or her estate plan is structured, and it may help family members to understand those reasons. Even if they do not agree with an individual's reasoning, at least they are aware of it and it will not be a shock later.

Heirs and beneficiaries tend to equate the amount of an inheritance -- or the absence of one -- with the value their deceased family member put on the relationship. This may be true in some instances, but in other cases, it has more to do with being fair than they may realize. For instance, one heir's graduate school was paid for by the loved one. In order for things to be "fair," that heir will receive less of an inheritance than those who did not receive that kind of help during life.

Of course, a person's motivations for dividing up his or her estate are none of anyone's business. However, if heirs have some knowledge of the thought process, the probate process could go much more smoothly. Moreover, it could avoid any potential rifts that could develop between family members.

Source: Forbes, "How To Make Sure Your Children Keep Speaking To Each Other After You Die", Mark Eghrari, June 4, 2014

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