Your last will is the intimate expression of your wishes for what happens to your estate after your death. You do not want it to be a source of conflict between your children and other people who are important to you. Avoiding conflict can be tricky, but there are steps you should take when planning your estate to minimize the likelihood of conflict.
When you die, family feelings may run hot. Conflict in times fraught with emotion is particularly risky and can lead to expensive litigation which would see your estate spent on legal fees rather than what you want.
Some things to consider when preparing your will:
It’s your stuff. Divide your assets as you see fit (and as the law allows) but consider how your loved ones may perceive the division of assets.
When preparing your will, speak with family and friends to let them know your intentions. These can be difficult conversations and you may want a lawyer to help you.
Explain and document loans and gifts, both while you are alive and in your will. If you loaned money to one of your children, make sure the status of that money is clear — was it a loan that must be repaid to the estate after your death or was it a gift? You can forgive loans in your will.
Consider giving some of your estate to loved ones while you are alive.
Regularly review your will. Have your circumstances changed such that what you originally intended no longer makes sense? For instance, do you have a new spouse or life-partner, or have you become grandparent?
Take care in appointing the right person or organization to be your estate trustee. For some, having all their children share estate trustee duties is right; for others, having only one child or a third-party is a better choice.