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Wills can cause family strife if not written with care

Looking ahead to one's own demise is never a cheery business, but it is a job that needs to be done. When a family is grieving it's a very upsetting time, but there may be some comfort taken from receiving the gifts left behind by a parent. Unfortunately, too often children feel they have been short-changed when wills are read, and this can lead to bitter feelings and even fighting during a time when a family should be coming together. A little forethought while writing a will in British Columbia can go a long way toward preventing strife in the future.

Surprisingly, some experts attest that it's personal belongings, and not money, that become the most hotly contested assets. People become emotionally attached to items in their family home, and sometimes value them more highly than mere money. In order to avoid squabbles when it's too late to intervene, anyone making a will (parents in particular) should be very clear with their heirs up front about who is going to get what and why. Speaking with beneficiaries about what items they might like can help keep everyone satisfied.

It is also important to treat one's heirs equally. In the case of children, it may be best to leave assets of equal value, even if their financial situations are different. Attempting to bolster the finances of a child who may be struggling a bit could leave another child feeling snubbed, even if his or her own financial picture is already brighter. Though one may only be trying to help, a child may see it as an expression of preference.

Another aspect to consider is who to name as executor. The obvious choice might be the eldest child, or perhaps a child who has appropriate professional experience for administration. It may be, however, that a non-family member would make a better choice. Appointing an outside party might greatly reduce the possibility of jealousy or the appearance of favouritism.

No one wants to leave behind a difficult situation for his or her family, or cause tension during an already emotional time. Careful planning now may save a lot of trouble down the road. A British Columbia lawyer who has experience crafting wills can help a person devise the right will for his or her unique circumstances.

Source:, "Family fights during estate planning common, but avoidable", Becky Raspe, March 12, 2017

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