It’s a point of dread in many families: planning out and dividing inheritances. Conflicts surrounding trusts and wills can give rise to tensions and cause rifts if one member of the family feels slighted.

Although it may be impossible to please everyone entirely, there are certain things you can do to help your own estate planning remain civil and avoid a conflict.

Here are some ways to smooth over the process:

  • Put together a plan with documentation – the more prepared you are for a planning session, the likelier you’ll be to have answers to questions, information to dissolve any tension that crops up, and create a cohesive grounds for discussion. Do this by preparing documents like financial statements, detailed lists of assets and liabilities, account information for things like insurance policies, and details for accessing any accounts needed. It’s also helpful to create a detailed list of possessions that you intend to distribute to survivors.
  • Hire an attorney – by working with the right attorney, you can run your plans by them and have any loopholes or loose ends closed, and the plans made more legally sound. Your attorney can help you draft an official legal document to present to your relatives ahead of time, which not only creates a framework to work from, but can also help avoid conflict over whether something in dispute is legally sound.
  • Call together a family meeting – once you’ve got adequate documentation and legal framework together, you should host a gathering of those involved in the estate so you can discuss the plans. This leaves room for people to disagree or ask questions, and prevents there being any surprises down the road. Transparency and clarity will help create a frictionless environment for your estate planning.

It’s ironic that you’ll need to build trust in order to build a trust. Human conflict is sometimes unavoidable, but you can assuage infighting and nip disagreements in the bud by conducting a thorough planning process that keeps everyone involved in the loop.

Don’t wait to start planning your estate. It’s never to late or too early to hire an estate planning lawyer and prepare for the future.