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Estate planning can avoid conflicts over the family home

Many Americans in Ohio and throughout the country believe that they don't have enough assets to necessitate estate planning. However, where an individual or married couple have a home, particularly one with a low or paid-off mortgage balance, potential complications make it important enough to go over with an estate planning attorney to assure that there will be no problems in the future. One way to cultivate dissension among heirs is to ignore the house as an important reason to make an estate plan.

When a death occurs to the last living parent, discord can often occur over the family home. Where there are several children, it may be prudent to have a family meeting to discuss how the home will be treated in the person's last will and testament. Where there are other assets, the whole picture and design of asset distribution can be discussed.

When the children know in advance how the house will be handled, there is usually no conflict that later arises among them. For example, the consensus may have been agreed that the house will be sold, and the proceeds divided into equal shares among the children. The will can be prepared to reflect that precise outcome. If there is an agreed reason to hold onto the house, that can be formalized in the will.

However, the advance discussions should verify that certain family members will be using the home and that they are fine with living together. That potential problem is often a strong motivator to sell the home. By preparing in advance, estate planning can avoid conflicts. For example, one child may get the house and other children may agree to take their share in cash or other funds, including through possible insurance proceeds. The combinations are endless and the process is complicated enough in Ohio that one should obtain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney to assure a smooth distribution of assets.

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