It is never too soon to begin to think about inheritance and how your assets will be distributed among family members. Over the next few decades, Americans will inherit trillions of dollars, and there will be accompanying litigation because families tend to argue over how much they should receive. Estate planning documents avoid these issues by carrying out the testator’s wishes in the event of illness, incapacity or death.

Arguments over inheritance are common throughout the United States

Some reasons why families argue over their inheritance are not obvious, and that is why it is so crucial to have some kind of estate planning documentation or a will in place as soon as possible. A number of children and grandchildren begin to argue over their portion of an estate even before their parents have died. These arguments can sometimes last years or decades, end up in court, and even cause long lasting family relationships to be broken. Some financial experts believe this problem is exacerbated by young people who are not saving adequately for their own retirement, and expect to receive a windfall after the death of their parents. 

Because American culture is so focused on money, both parents and their children play a role in these inheritance arguments. Some older adults will openly talk about what they intend to leave to family members, and many younger adults who receive this inheritance are willing to engage in unethical behaviors to get what they want. This creates a vicious cycle of greed, especially considering that many older adults choose to include charities and related causes in their wills.  

Many younger families legitimately do not have the assets to care for their parents and meet their own expenses. This creates a very real dilemma, and the unfortunate result is that many elderly people end up in nursing homes isolated from their families who still need to work long hours, because they cannot dedicate time and money to care for them. 

Planning for the future and avoiding family problems

The simplest way for older adults to avoid these kinds of family problems is to have a valid will drafted and updated with the assistance of a lawyer as needed. It is important to follow these formalities, as Florida does not recognize handwritten wills or other testamentary documents that do not meet the state’s formal legal requirements. This should be done as early as possible after discussions with family members, as someone with diminished mental capacity cannot execute a valid will. 

It is possible to use legal documents such as power of attorney to hand the decision making process off to another family member if the testator becomes incapacitated. However, it is equally important to make sure this person understands what is expected of them, as granting of power of attorney is a serious decision that essentially allows the person named to dispose of any assets and property.  

Talk with a Fort Walton Beach estate litigation lawyer 

Anyone who is thinking about how their assets will be used and distributed after death should contact a local attorney in north Florida. ASG Legal is available to answer all of your questions and draft necessary legal documents. 

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