When the surviving children of a recently passed California parent go through the probate process, emotions far greater than grief can flare. Old resentments can rear their heads, particularly if the last parent has not carefully planned specifically to prevent adding fuel to the flame. Often, communication is the most important tool.
As reported by Psychology Today, perhaps not much can cause more turmoil and relationship damage to adult siblings than the death of the parent. At times, old hard feelings may boil over during the difficult emotional task of laying a parent to rest and handling his or her financial affairs and estate arrangements.
As explained by AARP, parents can do much to help avoid that additional future pain to their children by using smart estate planning tips now. A parent’s estate planning is his or hers alone and not subject to a vote by other family members. However, sharing the basics of the planning with the adult children can help avoid excessive expectations that will later go unfulfilled.
Logical, objective choice of executor
When choosing an executor, parents often choose one of their adult children. When there are multiple children however, picking one over the others can cause hurt feelings.
Using an objective method to justify a choice in executor may work best. For instance, a parent may choose the oldest child and express that reasoning. Alternatively, the parent may explain that he or she is choosing the one with the strongest financial or legal background, or the one with the closest proximity to estate assets.
Equal division of estate among children
Splitting up the estate equally, to the dime, can a good idea. A difference of even a dollar less to one child can be a huge blow emotionally. As the saying goes, actions often speak louder than words.
Leaving a child with less than another child, even if that child is more financially sound and has less need, may cause more harm than good. The emotions of that child as well as the relationship between the unequally treated children going forward can have negative effects.
Clarification of prior gifts and loans
In a situation where the parents have given one or more children money in the past, it may be prudent that they specify whether such transfer was a gift or a loan. A child can then pay back a loan from the inheritance that child would otherwise receive.
But if it was a true gift, that fact should be clear for everyone’s knowledge. Not specifying what that transfer of money or assets was, gift or loan, can lead to questions and arguments later among the offspring.