Family is very important as it provides its members with love, support and foundational values. Indeed, a family offers and shares a very special bond for all. With everything that can be good also comes an ugly side. For as much as family members love and care for one another, fights over finances or inheritance are bound to ensue when a loved one passes on and no legitimate instructions were left behind. In Nigeria, you’ll have the case of siblings, uncles and aunties in a deep tussle over landed properties and other assets.
Avoiding these disputes that threatens peace within a family actually requires some methods which the loved one would have successfully put in place before passing on. Below are some methods we reckon will significantly reduce cases of family fights after a loved one is no more –
- By instilling togetherness – For peace sake, you should be intentional and go all the way to ensure that your family lives in harmony while you’re still with them. Parents need to ensure basic things like love, forgiveness, empathy, obedience etc are imbibed in the minds of children from early ages.
Also, in the same way, little wealth management discussions here and there will help shape the perspectives of your family. Let them know how to reach your lawyer, accountant/financial advisor. By doing this, you will have greatly reduced any form of disputes that may occur in the future.
- By clearly communicating your wishes – Avoid guessing that certain family members will look out for one another, people may change. One thing that won’t change though is if you had written a Will. A Will explicitly states the properties and assets you own and which of your loved ones or beneficiaries are entitled to take ownership of it when you’re gone. When doing this, it is advisable to be fair and consider the status of each beneficiary and which asset of yours will be beneficial to him/her. Writing a Will is a tried and trusted means to help avoid future fights when your inheritance is being distributed.
- Consider complex families – In Nigeria these days, you have people who’ve been married more than once and with children from those marriages, siblings, step-siblings, cousins etc. The more complex your family is, the increased potential for bitter family members. If you don’t want a loved one or family member getting a piece of your properties and assets, you should put this in writing; otherwise one uncle from your faraway hometown can come to lay claims to your properties and assets. Not only does this deprive the rightful owners, it harbours hatred and confusion in the family.
- Write a letter outside of your Will or trust, highlighting your thoughts, vision and expectations. Although, this is not a legally binding document, it can go a long way in bringing and restoring peace to your loved ones at a difficult time. In addition, if you have any personal items you feel will be significant to a loved one, let it be known to the recipient. For example, who gets your favourite gold bracelet, lace material, a piece of art or a yam pounding machine.
- Be careful with handing down real estate – Instead of leaving all properties to your beneficiaries and having them co-own, how about leaving one building to one beneficiary and another building to another beneficiary. If you leave them to co-own all properties, they may be in constant tussle over management of the property.
Using the above methods makes life easier especially after the passing of a loved one and allows for less fights and feuds. Instead, your loved ones will be happy to cherish the good memories of you and will be forever grateful to you.