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Lack of estate planning can complicate the sale of a family home

Facing one's own mortality and discussing it with family members is possibly one of the most difficult conversations a family can face in Washington. Failure to have an estate planning discussion can lead to major difficulties for one's heirs following one's death. Dying without a will or a trust in place can lead to family squabbling and infighting when a family should be coming together to support each other.

This can be particularly true regarding selling the family home. Siblings may not agree on the disposition of the property or its contents, and this can lead to a variety of problems. These can include whether or not to make repairs or updates to the property prior to selling, dealing with emotional attachments, and the length of time required to settle the estate. In one case, two siblings could not agree on the sale of the family home. The property languished for years until the one sibling died and only then was the property sold.

Situations like the one above may be avoided if an estate plan is put into place. Children should make sure that their parents have a will or trust and that those documents are kept up to date. A recent survey found that only 42% of adults in the United States had wills or trusts.

Estate planning can be a difficult process for some people to approach. However, failure to do so can cause friction and dissent within a family and may result in siblings not maintaining close relationships after the death of a parent or parents. Looking at the process as a gift to one's family to help ensure continued family harmony can facilitate the conversation. An experienced estate planning attorney in Washington can review a family's property and assets and help them to craft a comprehensive plan.

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