People in Columbus often work very hard so that when they do pass on, they are able to leave their families and/or friends with some added security in the form of an inheritance. Unfortunately, along with an inheritance also comes the potential for contention amongst beneficiaries. That is why people are encouraged to involve their beneficiaries in the estate planning process as much as possible. This may help to eliminate any disappointment over what beneficiaries may have coming to them as well as to clarify one’s exact wishes. 

A dispute currently playing out between a family in Alaska may serve to illustrate the need for such transparency. The daughter of a famed glacier pilot has recently taken her lawsuit against two of her siblings over control of a family trust to the state’s Supreme Court. At issue is the ownership and access to a property that her father built in the 1960s. A settlement agreement reached in 2015 gave her one-third of the economic interest in the property, yet she is claiming to have not been in a healthy state when she signed it, and thus did not understand that it represented a final settlement. Her brother, who serves as administrator of the trust, claims that it imposed no obligation to provide her with any interest at all in the property as per their mother’s instruction. 

While it may be impossible to avoid estate disputes altogether, one might certainly be able to try and subdue them before they ever arise by ensuring that all of his or her beneficiaries are active in his or her estate planning. Of course, managing all of the different expectations that beneficiaries may have can be difficult, which is why one may be wise to have an attorney help him or her through this process.  

Source: KTVA “Sheldon family dispute ends up in Alaska Supreme Court” Maxwell, Lauren, Feb. 14, 2018