Family Feuds—When Heirs Fight Over Assets With Sentimental Value | SB Estate Planning and Elder Law

Family Feuds—When Heirs Fight Over Assets With Sentimental Value

When we think about heirs fighting over assets, it is the big-ticket items that typically come to mind, such as the family home, investments, bank accounts and the like. However, it is often items of sentimental value—a mother’s necklace, for example, or a father’s watch—that cause the most contention. This is particularly true in the case of blended families. Worse, battles over sentimental assets often lead to hard feelings that can last for years or even permanently sever relationships between family members.

We can help you determine what the best path would be for you and your family. Please call Santa Barbara Estate Planning and Elder Law at (805)946-1550 to schedule a consultation.

How can you prevent your heirs from fighting over items with sentimental value? Many people believe that a statement in a will or trust that basically says ‘tangible personal property should be divided as my heirs see fit’ will solve the problem. However, this can lead to a host of potential conflicts. A better approach is to put specific items that you believe are of interest to certain family members in writing, and then discuss your decisions in advance with your family. In this way, many emotionally charged disputes can be avoided.

What if you are convinced that a former spouse, one of your children, or the spouse of one of your children will cause trouble no matter what you specify in your will? In this case, you might want to consider a no-contest clause. In essence, this clause makes the risk of challenging your will outweigh the potential benefit of doing so. A no-contest clause generally stipulates that if a beneficiary contests the will’s provisions or its validity, his or her interest in the will is forfeited. It is important to note, however, that you have to leave the heir in question enough of an inheritance to motivate him or her not to challenge the will.

We can help you with the nitty-gritty of this issue if you work with us at Santa Barbara Estate Planning and Elder Law.

Author Bio

Julianna Malis is the Founder and Managing Partner of Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law, a Santa Barbara estate planning law firm she founded in 2014. With more than 25 years of experience practicing law, she has dedicated her career to representing clients in a wide range of legal matters, including estate planning, elder law, Medicaid and Medicare planning, probate, and other estate planning areas.

Julianna received her Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific — McGeorge School of Law and is a member of the California State Bar Association.

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