Lisha A. Seery, LLC

Can estate planning address estranged family members?

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2023 | Estate Planning |

In some Missouri families, conflicts can escalate to the point of estrangement, causing various difficulties. When creating an estate plan, individuals may struggle with how to proceed due to the significant financial and personal implications involved.

Estrangement is common

Family estrangement is not unusual, and it should be considered as part of an estate plan. A researcher conducted a survey consisting of 1,300 people and found that more than one-quarter had ended a relationship with a family member. It broke down as follows:

  • 10% a child or parent
  • 8% involved a sibling
  • 9% were extended family members like an aunt, grandparent or cousin

This estrangement extends beyond holiday gatherings and affects estate planning. It could be wise to explain the intentions beforehand to prepare family members who are unlikely to get an equal share of an estate. For example, if a person has a son and a daughter and the relationship with the daughter is strained, the parent might want to explain that the son will receive a greater share in the estate plan. It gives the chance to detail why they made that decision.

Providing an explanation in writing can diminish the possibility of a will being contested by the relative who received less or was left out entirely. Legal action can stem from the estranged relative asserting wrongdoing like undue influence, fraud or coercion. The estate planning documents can be specifically crafted to avoid this.

Preparation is key with estate planning

Estate planning can be complicated, particularly when there are estranged family members. It can be difficult to decide how to handle such complex issues. For some, being as aboveboard and open as possible is preferable. In others, it is not. Regardless of the circumstances, the document should be comprehensive and complete according to the law so the testator’s objectives are achieved.