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Family meeting helps to validate estate planning distributions

In West Virginia and elsewhere, family disputes are a regular contributor to probate battles over the wording of the testator's will. Children who have received a smaller share of an estate's assets will often complain, and they can file a will contest to hold up processing and administration of the estate. Experts recommend that a person who is in the process of estate planning will do best by telling his or her children about any inequalities in the distribution while still alive.

In that way, the matter can be aired and explained. It will cut down on a sibling coming forth and filing a will contest by saying that the parent would never have written a will that favored one heir over others. When all of the heirs are together at one time, the testator can describe the different distributions and explain to the children why some of them are different.

Usually, a child who lives with and takes care of the parent will be favored in the will. A child who did not have as much financial support to get an education or to excel in other ways may be favored in the will. There is a myriad reasons that can exist. The meeting called by the parent to explain the will's unequal provisions should take place in the estate planning attorney's office.

In the meeting, the attorney can explain that the unequal distribution is totally enforceable. He or she can also explain to the children that there is a "no contest" provision that gives any individuals who file a contest a drastically reduced share of the assets. The attorney can explain that, under West Virginia law, the penalty will be enforced as stated. With these considerations in mind, this potential issue should be discussed with the attorney during the estate planning stages of the process.

Source: Forbes, "Aging Parents, Entitled Kids, Unequal Inheritance: Recipe For Fights", Carolyn Rosenblatt, May 4, 2017

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