“I never thought my family would act this way.”   These are the words out of my friend’s mouth when she was describing her husband’s family after a death.   Unfortunately, the stories of family discord are outnumbering the “smooth transitions” almost 2 to 1.     The concept of survivorship planning is founded on capturing all the details your family needs to ensure a non-event – no family squabbles or further trauma that could linger through the family ties for years.      As I collect the wisdom of others, I like to share it fair and square with my readers.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your family off of the estate battleground:

1.   Note specific bequests in your estate plan.    If you leave all of your personal things to be split between your children equally, disagreements can flare up quickly if more than one of them has their eye on certain items.  (it seems improbable, but it happens frequently)

2.  If you have personal loans between family members, specify the terms in case of death explicitly!  This is a HOT issue in families today.

3.  Communicate your plans to your family directly.   It’s better hearing it from you than a reading of your will.

4.  If your estate plan is confidential, make a brief video explaining your reasoning behind your will.

5.  Do not depend on conversations only to communicate to your family.    Time has a way of fading the true color of your wishes.    Write it down!

Plan it, document it and communicate it!    It’s a simple concept with a HUGE impact.