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How Florida testators can help to prevent their beneficiaries from fighting

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | Estate Planning |

An adult who plans to leave an inheritance for specific people wants each bequest to have a positive impact. The resources that someone leaves behind when they die can help their loved ones enjoy a more comfortable standard of living.

Unfortunately, an inheritance is just as likely to cause challenges for a beneficiary as it is to produce a positive economic impact. Particularly when the person who dies has a substantial amount of property or the family has a history of high-conflict relationships, like siblings who constantly fight, a testator establishing a Florida estate plan may worry that their loved ones may fight with one another over the estate.

The legacy a testator leaves might actually be permanent damage to the relationships of their surviving loved ones if their resources cause a major dispute. The conflict that arises among their family members could also potentially reduce how much the estate is worth.

How can a Florida testator reduce the likelihood of their beneficiaries fighting over estate matters?

Careful estate planning can minimize conflict

Families may argue over someone’s estate plan when the documents someone leaves behind when they die don’t meet the expectations of their surviving family members. Certain issues, like uneven inheritances and outdated documents, are more likely than others to trigger family conflict.

Testators may want to review their estate planning paperwork every few years to update what resources they include and the people who stand to inherit from the estate. They may also want to communicate directly with their family members about changes to their estate planning wishes.

If someone decides to reduce the inheritance of certain family members are disinherit somebody, that decision is less likely to trigger conflict if family members are aware of it before they die. Some people even create trusts to manage their resources because trusts are not as easy to challenge in probate court as a will is. Unlike most other states, Florida does not enforce penalty or no-contest clauses.

In other words, a testator cannot impose a penalty if people challenge their estate plan. They need to deter the conflict in other ways. The creation of appropriate documents, a commitment to regular estate planning updates and communication with family members about legacy wishes can all help someone minimize family conflict triggered by their eventual death. Testators who know that their families are prone to conflict may benefit from creating robust estate plans accordingly.