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Creating wills that help, not hinder, family relations

One of the primary purposes of drafting a will is to ensure that one's accumulated assets pass down to loved ones in the manner of one's choosing. In making those provisions, many Oklahoma residents fail to adequately consider the wishes of their family members. This leads to many scenarios in which wills become more of a burden than a blessing and create unnecessary tension between loved ones as they enter the grieving process.

An example lies in a piece of property that parents intend to leave to their adult children. Regardless of whether the property is the family home, a vacation home or a piece of investment property, it is vitally important to determine if all of the children have an interest in inheriting the property. In many cases, a different estate planning approach might yield a better outcome.

For example, if one or more siblings is estranged from the others, it makes little sense to structure an estate plan that gives all siblings an equal share in the family's vacation home. The same can be said for a scenario in which a piece of rental property is passed down to two children, one of whom wants no involvement in real estate investing or property management. Often, it is impossible to tell what one's adult children want without having a series of conversations with them on the topic.

In some cases, it may make more sense to leave a piece of property to one or more children, while making other provisions for another. A greater share of other assets could be passed down to make up for the value of a share of the real property. At the end of the day, the manner in which assets are bequeathed matters far less than taking the time to consult with one's children and listen to their input on their own inheritance. Many Oklahoma families can benefit from a series of discussions on wills, trusts and other estate planning options.  

Source:, "How to take the stress out of estate planning", Brian Vnak, Sept. 2, 2015

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