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Kids fight.  And when emotions and money fuel the fight, it can get ugly real fast, and stay that way for a long time.  Oddly enough, there is a bit of old speech making wisdom that can make a big difference in reducing or eliminating future conflict between your children.

Tell Them What You’re Going to Tell Them

Letting children know ahead of time what the plan is can do wonders for eliminating conflict.  Important questions can be answered.  Most of the time conflict comes from family members who have different opinions on what mom and dad would have wanted.  By answering those questions up front, everybody can get on the same page. 

Tell Them

Of course, having a conversation is only part of the battle.  You need to have the actual legal documents in place to make your plan effective.  It doesn’t help create family harmony when the law forces them to do something they feel is unfair or that doesn’t match your wishes.  Your will and living trust need to tell them what to do in a way that the court will back you up.

Tell Them What You Told Them

The reason why a plan is set up the way it is can be even more important than the plan itself. 

Understanding why is often more important that the what.  It may seem obvious to you now why you have that particular division in place or designated that asset to that child, but will it be obvious to them, later, when it matters?  Taking the time to communicate your reasoning, either ahead of time, or in a letter to go with your formal estate plan can make a huge difference in helping your beneficiaries understand your intent.

Following these three steps can help ensure that your beneficiaries actually benefit from what you’re leaving them, and not some random attorney.