How to Prevent a Family Feud

by | Aug 20, 2012 | Estate Planning

Did you catch Hatfields & McCoys on the History Channel recently? I really enjoyed this great mini-series starring Kevin Costner. (Seeing him shooting and riding a horse again made me think of the movie “Dance With Wolves.”) I liked it so much that I bought a book about it on my Nook. The book is titled, “Blood Feud” by Lisa Alther — good summer reading!

Estate Feuds

After a funeral, some families end up with their own version of a feud over an estate. Sadly, most feuds could be prevented with good planning ahead of time. Here are a few examples of things that can cause problems:

  1. SPECIAL BELONGINGS  – Maybe grandma’s old pie plate or the antique rocker? Items with high emotional value can sometimes lead to more fighting than money itself. Download our resource to help with that here.
  2. PROCRASTINATORS  – Sometimes the trustee or executor just can’t seem to get around to taking care of the important legal and financial details. As time goes on, they feel nagged by others but others feel wronged that the estate is being held up by someone else’s laziness. Read about 7 Types of Helpers to Watch Out For here.
  3. A BULLY’S POWER TRIP –  When someone who enjoys power is named executor, watch out! They may disagree with what the will says or think the estate’s bank account is their personal slush fund. And they’re good at rationalizing all of it. Just ask them, they’ll tell you why it’s okay!
  4. THE ENTITLED  – Sometimes a family member feels entitled to live in mom’s house or use her old car or farm the land without paying rent. Of course, they think there are good reasons for it. But, unfortunately, it’s just like stealing from the other family members who are entitled to their share as well.
  5. STEP-KIDS BATTLE  – Good relationships based on years of love and trust can go up in smoke with poor planning. I’ve seen situations where the stepmom even refused to give the kids their photo albums!

With the Hatfields and McCoys the body count was high. If your estate ends up in a feud, the casualties may be family harmony, extreme stress and frustration, extra expense or legal fees — even loss of assets altogether (like family land). I say it all the time, “Bad estate plans break up good families!” This doesn’t need to be the case. Call 217-726-9200 to schedule an Initial Meeting today.