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Critical tips to keep heirs from arguing

You're leaving money to your kids. You don't want them to fight over it. What can you do?

Parents are often worried about this. They want to leave a legacy. They want to help their children. They don't want to create a situation of constant strife and fighting, which may tear the family apart.

One of the biggest keys is simply to communicate. You don't have to silently, secretly write your will. You don't have to guess and hope they like the decisions you make.

Talk to your kids. Tell them what you have. Tell them what they'll get. Explain your reasoning. They may not agree, but they can then calmly bring it up with you. Then all of you, as a family, can work to find an agreement everyone likes. This is far better than having kids fight over the details after the fact, when they may not be willing to budge.

It's also important, in most cases, to try to make things even. One of the biggest sources of fighting is when one child feels slighted, as if he or she was left less than the rest.

This can mean juggling your assets. If you want to leave one child your home, for instance, rather than splitting ownership between multiple children, that may work. However, you may then need to find assets of equal value that you can leave the other kids so that everything evens out on the whole.

If you're proactive about your estate planning, you can work to prevent issues in the future. Make sure you know what legal options you have and how to proceed.

Source: AARP, "How to Leave an Inheritance to Your Kids," Jean Chatzky, accessed June 21, 2017

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