J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Attorney and CPA

Estrangement a frequent dispute in dividing an estate

A frequent and unfortunate situation that arises when dealing with a will is when the decedent chooses to remove a family member from the list entirely. In this type of scenario, the estate and assets are to be divided among the family members who the decedent wanted to receive them. There are various issues that arise in this kind of circumstance and they must be understood by both the person writing the will and those who stand to gain or lose because of it.

People who are considering inheritance rights when they formulate their will often have certain criteria for those who will receive a portion of their estate. This could be for a variety of reasons for exclusion such as taking part in illegal activity, a failure to go out and live on their own, abusiveness, no longer being part of the family to a reasonable degree or issues with the individual's spouse. In many instances, this involves a parent and a child. There are options other than leaving the person out of the will entirely such as having a reduced inheritance compared to others, placing the inheritance in a trust or leaving the inheritance to grandchildren.

While it's difficult to think about the inevitability of death, that doesn't lessen the responsibility a person has to ensure that the person's estate is taken care of in the manner of the person's choosing. Various issues arise when there is a will being written including how to divide the estate, formulating trusts, deciding on the executor and having all the potential problems ironed out so there's little chance of a dispute after the person's death. The reason for taking out a will is to make certain the decedent's wishes are carried out. With that in mind, it's imperative to have a clear idea as to the desires beforehand and a comprehensive plan so they're carried out.

It's inevitable that issues within families will crop up leading to a disagreement over inheritance rights and who gets what from the estate. To prevent that from swallowing the entire estate and engulfing family members along with it, a people should make sure they understand the legal particularities that are required for a valid will.

Source: LakeCoNews.com, "Estate planning: Dealing with estranged children," Dennis Fordham, Sept. 6, 2014

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