William Long Whitesell, L.L.C.

Children often fight over land and real estate property

Dividing your assets between your children seems simple at first. You have three kids and $150,000 in the bank. You give them all $50,000. You have another $90,000 in investments, and you send $30,000 to each. You can divide your retirement savings, life insurance and other financial assets equally, helping to prevent any fights and disagreements after you pass away.

Unfortunately, dividing your real estate may not be so easy. Should you pass your home on to the kids, giving them all one third of the ownership? What about open land, vacation homes and other properties that you own?

You can do this, and many parents do. The problem is that children do often fight over property because they simply do not agree on how to use it.

For instance, perhaps your son has two children who are in their teens. He wants to sell your home up front so that he can put that money aside for them to go to college. You older daughter does not have children and only works part-time, so she wants to keep the house and use it as a rental. With very little work, she sees it as a way to finally have a full-time income. Your younger daughter, though, has plenty of money of her own. She doesn't want to sell the house or rent it; she just wants to keep it in the family so that the three children can share it. She imagines it as the perfect place for family reunions.

These are all very different visions, and they cannot co-exist. It is important to talk to the children and consider all of your estate planning options. Some parents simply sell their property in advance so they can split up the money and avoid any conflicts.

Source: The Week, "When to think twice about leaving your home to your kids," Sheryl Nance Nash, accessed May 11, 2018

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