Every family faces challenges and conflicts between members at some point. However, some situations are more volatile and contentious than others. If this sounds like your family, the friction you experience could make it all but impossible to rely on your loved ones to cooperate when making complicated decisions.

Under these circumstances, creating a valid estate plan will be particularly important.

Tips to avoid additional complications

Below are some tips for how to create a valid estate plan without causing additional complications.

  1. Make your wishes clear: One of the most valuable moves you can make to prevent family disputes is to have a clear, comprehensive estate plan. Be explicit in what you want and do not want; specify who you want to make decisions on your behalf; and update and revise your will as family relationships change. If you have someone you trust in your family, it can help to discuss your plans with him or her to provide critical context and explanations.
  2. Consider a no-contest clause: In some situations, it may be wise to include a no-contest provision in your will. This measure can prevent beneficiaries from contesting a will without just cause. Under these circumstances, a person disputing the will imprudently can wind up with nothing. A no-contest clause could be useful if you anticipate a beneficiary will be dissatisfied with their share of your estate. Understand, though, that there are state laws in place that dictate when the courts will enforce these clauses.
  3. Have trusted advisers: If you cannot trust your family members, having an outside party advise you on financial and legal matters could prove critical. For instance, an attorney or financial professional can take control of complicated situations if you cannot rely on loved ones to make decisions aligned with your best interests.

When you take control of your wishes and provide direction for what to do when you cannot express yourself, you can make it less likely that your passing will create or exacerbate conflict – at least, in the legal sense.