Disputes over inheritance can get ugly, quickly. But what happens when loved ones disagree about estate management, even at the planning stage? Resolving these disputes can be critical, because disputes over inheritance can be devastating to a family, emotionally, and financially. If you and your spouse are struggling with some estate planning, here are some science-based tips to put the conversation on a more productive path.
Explain the Logic:
Don’t presume that your spouse understands the reasoning behind your position. Instead, as experts explained to the Wall Street Journal, state exactly why you believe this is the best course of action. Then be open to listening to other ways to implement the estate plan that could still achieve your result.
It’s obvious, but research by University of Montana’s Alan Sillars has shown that the longer a couple is married, the less they listen to what their spouse is actually saying. Instead, each spouse just guesses what the other will say, and, instead of listening, both spend more time planning their half of the argument, rather than learning the other’s actual point of view.
Rule Things Out:
What if you begin by considering what not to do? The more choices people have, the more there is to disagree about; choice can be paralyzing. So come up with things that you both agree are off-the-table. For example, you’re probably going to agree that you don’t want your entire estate going to the IRS. Even if this doesn’t automatically lead to positive answers, a shared laugh will remind you of things you have in common; start over with a more productive discussion.
If the problems are absolutely intractable, a last resort option might be to consider setting up separate estates for each spouse—an idea this Forbes piece addressed a few years ago:
If you each have your own lawyer, you may have more freedom to speak up about your specific concerns and desires without having to take into consideration those of your partner. In addition, your best interests will be the only concern. This is especially important in blended family situations, since there can often be competing, conflicting interests between step parents and their step children.
Consult an Expert:
The law can be dense, and there may well be other options that neither you nor your spouse considered, that can address all of your concerns.
If you’re considering your future legacy and want to find a plan both you and your spouse can rest easy with, reach out to our experienced professionals today. Check us out wilsonmillerlaw.com or call us today 501-221-7776.