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Equal Is Not Necessarily Fair - Avoiding Family Disputes

Apr 3, 2019 9:00:00 AM The MacMillan Estate Planning Team family disputes, Family Office


Family is often at the centre of an estate plan, and fostering a healthy dynamic between family members is crucial to your plan’s success. However, this can sometimes be easier said than done, and family disputes are a common challenge. If one arises, how do you work through it?

Preventative Measures

One of the most important factors in avoiding family disputes in estate planning is communication between family members. Pursue open discussion on a proactive basis, avoiding ambiguity and never leaving anything until the last minute. The same principles apply to your will and other estate documents, which should be as clear and legally strong as possible. Meanwhile, it’s a mistake to assume that dividing everything equally is a suitable approach. The way in which your legacy is distributed should be driven by detailed, individualized factors, otherwise one beneficiary may feel that another is receiving more than they have a right to.

Addressing the Conflict

Sometimes a conflict develops despite your best efforts. Perhaps one beneficiary feels that they were left out of certain inheritances that they’re entitled to, complications have arisen due to a blended family situation, or the family business is threatened by a succession plan gone awry. Start with civil discussion designed to clearly establish each party’s position and why those positions conflict. If an agreeable resolution cannot be met, professional mediation may be necessary. If a significant portion of your legacy is tied to a family business, conflicts that lead to litigation may hamper the administration of your estate and jeopardize the very business itself.

Don’t Do It Alone

If there’s one strategy that can go a long way towards preventing a feud, it’s having an experienced estate planner to help plan your estate. Skillful estate specialists have the ability to plan for and prevent common disputes. They do this not only by tactfully structuring your estate and helping you to write highly effective estate documents, but by taking the time to understand the needs, circumstances, and values that lie at the heart of your family. There’s never a guarantee that planning your estate will be straightforward or easy, but your estate planner can make all the difference in minimizing the chances of conflict and other unpleasant challenges.

We help affluent families in Canada, the United States, and the U.K. plan their wealth and create powerful legacies. When you work with us, you and your loved ones will always be cared for with the utmost dedication. Call our family office at 1-833-266-6464 to arrange a consultation or register for a complimentary seminar.

At MacMillan Estate Planning, our team of professional trust and estate practitioners, chartered accountants, financial planners, and legal professionals look forward to assisting you with the design of your estate plan and will ensure you build, protect, and enjoy your wealth. The information provided is general and may not be suited to your objectives or sufficient to ensure the protection of you and your family. You should not act on this information without providing MacMillan Estate Planning with the opportunity to ensure that it is suitable for your unique situation.

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