Establishing an estate plan is not an easy task. A person developing this plan needs to account not only for the distribution of bank accounts, retirement funds and potentially a family home but also must keep in mind various insurance policies. While attempting to account for all these financially tangible assets, it is easy to forget everything else. This other stuff, potentially considered family heirlooms, can lead to bitter battles between loved ones.

Specialists in the estate planning field note that these arguments can lead to lifelong rifts, according to a recent article in MSN Money. This is especially true if one child feels he or she was treated unfairly when the assets are distributed.

Tips to avoid discord

An article in Market Watch provided a series of tips that can help those putting together an estate plan avoid these rifts. Some of the highlights include:

  • Be clear. One of the main causes of contention within a family is confusion. This can be avoided if there is a document specifically outlining which heir receives which item. This can be accomplished by including language in a will directing the executor to refer to a memorandum included with the will. This memorandum can outline exactly how tangible personal property is to be distributed.
  • Distribute goods during your lifetime. In addition to helping avoid confusion, taking the time to give away heirlooms while still alive also allows the opportunity to watch others enjoy these items. A certain level of satisfaction can accompany this action.
  • Use professionals. From the lawyers that draft the estate plan to the executors that carry it out, using professionals can help remove the risk of arguments. Using professionals takes a very powerful role out of a family member's hands; reducing the concern that other loved ones may have about how the job is done.

The overarching theme of these tips is communication. In addition to reducing the risk of confusion, discussing distribution plans can help you realize that one child may have an interest in an item you did not foresee. These conversations can lead to a more appropriate distribution of assets.

Regardless of the distribution scheme an individual wishes to implement, it is always wise to contact a legal professional. An experienced estate planning lawyer can discuss your wishes and help better ensure the right legal tools are used to accomplish your goals.