4 Tips To Handling Estate Battles

Estate battles can happen after the parent or the owner of the estate dies. Especially when there are no proper directions as to the distribution of the estate, the heirs may be fighting with each other as to who gets this, and who gets that. Even in the presence of a will or an estate agreement, there could still arise a dispute when certain heirs contest what they and the other heirs receive.

No matter how well the deceased may have prepared for their demise by giving clear instructions on the asset distribution, they can never really tell what goes on in the minds of the heirs once they’re left with certain assets. When disputes arise, it’s now up to each party to learn how to handle the battle amicably and well enough to avoid the situation of family relationships getting destroyed or broken up by the greed and spite which may arise out of estate battles.

If you’re facing any estate battle at the moment, you may find these tips useful in handling those disputes:

1. Consult A Lawyer and Mediator

Estate battles, especially one that arise between siblings, can be challenging. Your estate battle should never get in the way of maintaining a happy and amicable relationship with your siblings, especially during challenging times, like your parent’s death. So, you’ll want to keep the estate contention as objective as possible.

One way you can achieve this is through consulting a top rated family law attorneys serving Denver metro area and a mediator, or wherever you’re from. With a lawyer and a mediator, you can bring the whole family together, to help reach a consensus in the situation. These two professionals may also help the family avoid long and costly court battles, which is quite common with estate disputes.

If you’re concerned about why you should have to spend for a lawyer just to prove that you’re entitled to a certain part of the estate, the truth is that having a lawyer and a mediator may save your estate and save you more money in the long run. Estate battles can be long and costly, and if you don’t make a resolve to fix the issue with your siblings or other heirs early on, you may just hurt the value of the estate in such a way that you’re dissipating a huge chunk off its value because of the dispute.

2. Consider Liquidating All The Assets

In many cases, the problems in estate plan division and battles arise when one heir receives certain properties and that certain heir alleges that the properties they received are worth so much less than what the others receive. This is quite common because inherently, different properties will have different market values.

To be fair about it, if there’s a surviving spouse, a good way to handle any estate battle that some children may now be alleging is to liquidate the assets. This means selling all the assets so that there’s liquid cash. And what the heirs will have now is a division, in equal sharing, of the proceeds.

3. Refer The Matter To An Independent Fiduciary

If a sibling or an heir has been appointed as a trustor or executor of the property, another fair solution to handle any estate battle is to defer the asset division to an independent fiduciary. This is a third-party fiduciary which now holds the responsibility of making decisions on the asset distributions. Having a third-party fiduciary as the executor of the estate can avoid any potential conflict that may arise from the siblings and can only complicate the matter even more.

In this kind of process, the sibling or heir appointed as the executor or trustor of the estate should formally decline the appointment. By doing so, all the other heirs can decide unanimously on appointing an independent fiduciary to do that job. This fiduciary can be another trusted member of the family, a lawyer, an accountant, or a representative of a bank’s trust department.

4. Divide Household Items Fairly

As small as the matter may be, even little household items can be a cause of dispute among siblings. While financially, the value of those items may not be much, to children of deceased parents, some items may have sentimental value. They now desire to keep those certain items in their respective households.

To avoid any dispute regarding these small items, a good way to divide those little things is to take turns picking and choosing. Have a day where all heirs are present in each property. Then, take turns choosing what items each one of you will want to bring home.

How To Avoid Family Disputes Over Your Property

It is not inevitable that members of a family will be hostile to one another or at the very least tense when discussing a family inheritance; however, this should not be the case. The following pieces of guidance are offered to assist you in helping your family avoid fighting over your property, both while you are still alive and after you have passed away.

1. Keep an open mind and open lines of communication with your loved ones and family members

Call a meeting of your family members to discuss your wishes and the final matters of your life. You are under no obligation to specifically discuss what and how much each individual will be receiving because those details are always subject to alteration. You are, however, free to explain how you will partition the property.

Explain your decision to give a larger portion to one individual than to another if that person is receiving a lower share overall. Even if people disagree with your line of thinking, at least they will have an understanding of why you made the choice that you did. This conversation has the potential to make a significant contribution toward preventing future litigation between siblings.

2. Make a legacy letter and give it to those you care about to read after your death

If you choose not to have a family meeting, another option is to write a letter carefully explaining your goals and wishes about your estate plan. This can be done in place of having a family meeting. You need not concern yourself with using accurate legal language in the letter; rather, you can merely express your intentions in your own words. These letters are also referred to as legacy letters on occasion.

Bear in mind that letters of this nature do not carry any sort of legal weight. On the other hand, it may be a useful way to keep the members of your family informed about your plans and to express your love and appreciation for the members of your family and friends.

3. Decide on the procedure for distributing personal property

Many families discover that having conversations about the division of their personal property well in advance of the death of a parent is extremely beneficial. Even though a personal property memorandum is a crucial component of many different estate plans, it is not unusual to come across one that is blank or unsigned. When something like this occurs, the majority will give the executor the discretion to decide whether or not to divide the property equally among the beneficiaries. The executor will have a difficult time accomplishing this task. If the executor is required to hire an appraiser to determine the value of each item so that everything can be distributed evenly, this can be a time-consuming and expensive process. 

When it comes to the division of their property, some families favor using a different approach. For instance, some families decide to allow each beneficiary to choose from a predetermined list of items in a manner that is revolving. An alternative would be for the family to hold an auction, at which members of the family could place bids on various items. There is an infinite number of possibilities, and having a conversation with members of your family in advance about the advantages of the various choices can prevent disagreements after you have passed away.

4. Regularly review your estate documents and give yourself a legal check-up

The preparation is necessary to assist you in comprehending the impact that the documents will have on both you and your family. Keep in mind that any major life change could potentially affect your estate plan. Review your documents regularly with your attorney to determine whether or not they require any updates or revisions.

5. Take special care with how you title your assets

Your assets might not be titled correctly, which could cause your carefully crafted estate plan to fail despite its aesthetic appeal. When it comes to jointly titling cash accounts and real estate, exercise extreme caution. People do this all the time for the sake of convenience, but some very serious repercussions can come from doing so legally.

It is common practice for elderly parents to add a child to their bank account so that the child can contribute to the payment of bills. However, rather than being distributed according to the terms of the parent’s will or trust, the entire value of the bank account will be given to the child when the parent passes away. 

6. Examine beneficiary designations

You need to give the beneficiary designations on your life insurance policy and retirement accounts careful consideration. Through this thorough examination, you can ensure that they are consistent with your will and estate plan.

In some families, the primary beneficiary of an insurance policy or retirement account is a child or a second spouse rather than the original owner of the policy or account. People act in this manner on the presumption that the assets will be distributed by the terms of the deceased person’s will or trust. That is not the situation at all. The failure to keep beneficiary designations accurate and up to date can lead to unexpected outcomes, many of which can be contentious.

7. Increase the amount of time you spend together as a family

Think about shelling out some cash to bring your loved ones together while you’re still around, while you still have the chance. Several families have discovered that by setting aside money annually for a vacation together, their bonds can be strengthened. It is much less likely for members of a family to argue with one another when those members value their relationships with one another and there are good relationships between them.

You have devoted your entire life to accumulating property. The last thing you want is for that property to be the source of annoyance, resentment, or frustration among the people in your immediate or extended family. It won’t take much effort on your part to make a significant impact on your legacy by putting even one or two of these ideas into practice. Putting in a little bit of effort right now could pay off in a big way after you’re gone.


With the tips above, you may now be more successful in solving your estate battles. The shorter the battle is, the better it’s going to be, for the sake of keeping the family’s relationship intact. In many instances, the longer the estate battle goes on, the more expensive it’s also going to be.

Surely, that’s not the outcome you hope to have for what you would’ve otherwise received, without the estate battle. In an already challenging time, unnecessary drama should be the least of the added concerns of the family.