Estate Planning

How to Avoid Family Disputes Following Your Passing

What are the things you should take into account when making a real estate plan for distributing inheritance to next generations?

The death of a loved one is invariably a difficult time for those still here. The sudden change and uncertainty that can lie ahead may reignite old feuds, or drive a wedge through even the happiest of families, at a time when cohesion is needed to tackle the bureaucratic burden that comes with one’s passing. There are many steps you can take to plan ahead and minimise this burden to ensure that schisms do not appear or widen. This article will cover the issues that most commonly ignite feuds and give direction about what you can do now to avoid them.

Healthcare Directive and Power of Attorney

When one’s time is near, you may lose the capacity to effectively communicate your last wishes and desires. Unfortunately, this is also when many crucial decisions regarding life and death need to be made. Stopping aggressive, potentially harmful and undignified, but occasionally life saving treatment, is never an easy decision to make on someone else’s behalf. During periods or severe illness, loved ones may be presented with extremely challenging (both emotionally and technically) decisions regarding ongoing treatment. This can be distressing, upsetting and lead to disagreements and divisions between families; all at a time when they should be by their loved one’s side.

Avoid this potential conflict by using either a power of attorney or healthcare directive.

A healthcare directive, or living Will, explicitly states your wishes and establishes a ceiling of care (the most aggressive medical treatment you would wish to receive) should you become seriously unwell.

A power of attorney is someone (usually a close friend or relative) who you appoint to manage affairs, financial and other, during your illness.

By planning ahead and using these tools, you can mitigate future disagreements between family members, who may not agree on what is best for you, or what you would want, when you are not able to communicate so.

Last Will and Testament

When someone dies without a last Will or Testament it can create chaos for the family. Depending on where you live and the legal process in your country/area, it can be left up to either the courts or the remaining children to determine who gets what. As you can predict this often causes arguments. For this reason it is of paramount importance that you clearly state how you wish your estate to be divided in the event of your passing. It also ensures that your loved ones get what they need and are provided for when you are no longer here.


It is often not enough to simply leave a last Will and assume that everyone will be ok with what it says. Although it may be enough from a legal standpoint, remaining family may be left feeling surprised, jealous or neglected by the manner it orders one’s estate to be divided. Make sure no one is given a nasty surprise by discussing how you intent to distribute your assets in a clear way, before they are revealed during the tumultuous time following your death.

Choosing an Executor

An executor is the person in charge of distributing assets in accordance with the last Will. The executor is usually named in the Will. They often have supreme authority which can leave others feeling powerless and frustrated if they feel that the executor is not fulfilling his or her duties correctly. It is also crucial that you pick an executor who you trust to carry out your final wishes competently and tactfully. To mitigate arguments you may wish to add a clause stipulating that the executor must act with a majority consensus or even unanimous vote. This goes a long way to avoiding potential disputes.

Whatever lies ahead and whatever wishes you may have, make sure they are officially documented, in order, securely stored and clearly communicated in one safe place using SecureTheFile.