News & Resources: Blog

Ensure Your Estate Plan is Structured to Minimize Conflict

Published: April 27, 2023

It is quite possible that your heirs, including minor and adult children, do not agree regarding family circumstances, particularly when it comes to inheriting your estate. Relationships can change and intensify when you die, with underlying issues that bubble to the surface, creating tensions over your estate and possibly tearing your family apart. Even if your children get along well, distribution of your assets can require conflict resolution skills. Without previously experiencing any significant conflicts, even close siblings can struggle to maintain happy family relationships when settling your estate.

While you are younger and mentally fit, proactive planning can drastically reduce family conflict and infighting among your heirs. During these next two decades, vast sums of inheritable assets in the US will transfer from the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers in the realm of 30 to 68 trillion dollars to their adult children. Wealth management groups estimate that roughly 70 percent of these families will lose a sizeable chunk of their inheritance due to estate battles.

Yet sibling conflicts are not limited to money. There are always stories of heirs fighting over a piano, valuable artwork and jewelry, sentimental items, and even baseball card collections as they vie for a perceived edge of inheritance. Situations may occur where fighting families spend more on legal fees in court litigation than the actual worth of what the other heirs stand to inherit.

The easiest way to avoid infighting is to speak to your children directly to manage their expectations about your estate plan and receive their input. You can’t honestly know what your heirs prefer to hold on to once you are gone unless you ask. These family discussions need to include all heirs equally because if one heir gets a say about what they inherit, so should all. 

At the same time, these conversations can be difficult because an equal division is not always possible depending on the asset. Additionally, some well-off heirs may want more sentimental items or family collections rather than cash as it might change their tax bracket. In contrast, the less well-off heirs can genuinely benefit from additional monies.

If your plan is for unequal distributions of your estate and you opt not to discuss it with your heirs while you are living, include explanatory language in your estate plan as to how you came to your decisions to help your heirs understand your goals and minimize conflict. Your estate planning attorney can also communicate to your family why being fair is not always the same as being equal.

To reduce the potential for conflict in your estate plan, do not name joint personal representatives (executors) or joint trustees. Administering probate, trusts, and your estate with just one person accountable for the final decisions in each legal entity will simplify your heirs’ interactions. Simply because an heir is the oldest or of a certain gender does not qualify them to administer your estate. In fact, all of your heirs may not be suitable to serve in these roles, in which case a neutral third party needs to be appointed. 

A neutral third-party entity can be a trust company or bank that can execute your wishes without family participation in decision making. For those who worry an heir may squander generational wealth, a discretionary trust administered by a neutral third party enables you to provide for your beneficiary without worrying about the money going to waste. 

Finally, keeping your estate plan updated with your estate planning attorney reduces the likelihood that an heir will contest your will or trust. Major life events like death, divorce, or remarriage require an immediate re-evaluation of your estate plans. Even if your family is not prone to conflict, managing heirs’ expectations and a sound, routinely reviewed estate plan can prevent a bitter legal battle that can tear your family apart. If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

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It can be quite confusing to determine which Medicare plan is best for you. There are several types of plans, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Understanding some basic features will help you decide how to maximize your healthcare dollars and choices. You should review your choice periodically, especially as elements of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 change prescription medication and vaccine policies. Coverage can also change from year to year..

There are three basic types of plans:

  1. Original Medicare
  2. Medicare Advantage
  3. Medigap

Original Medicare

Medicare is a government health insurance plan for people 65 and older. Original Medicare, sometimes called traditional Medicare, comes in several parts. Each part covers different things and has various associated costs. 

Most people do not pay for Part A as it was deducted from their taxes paid while working. It is primarily for hospital visits and nursing care. However, there are many fees associated with being in a hospital that Medicare does not cover, which you still might have to pay out of pocket.

Part B requires monthly premiums, which can be deducted from your social security. You can elect to enroll in part B through Original Medicare. It covers a portion of doctors' visits, durable medical goods, and more. 

Part D covers the cost of many prescription medications. You can add it to Original Medicare or purchase it as part of a Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage is offered through private insurance companies that Medicare approves. Most plans include Parts A, B, and D of Original Medicare with some variations from the original. There are a wide variety of Medicare Advantage plans, including Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO). PPOs tend to have higher premiums and offer more choices than HMOs. Medicare Advantage HMOs and PPOs often have higher premiums than traditional Medicare because they usually cover more expenses, including prescription drug costs, vision, hearing, and dental.

However, the overall costs, premiums, plus out-of-pocket expenses for Advantage plans can be lower than Original Medicare because the private insurers manage patient care and limit choices. They assemble networks of hospitals and physicians to control their costs and reduce their customer's premiums. They also restrict access to certain providers and increase the cost of care obtained out-of-network.

Traditional Medicare allows people to seek care from any provider participating in Medicare, which includes virtually all hospitals and physicians.


Medigap is a co-insurance or supplement to Original Medicare. You can enroll when you first enroll in Part B. It is also available through Medicaid, a union, or a former employer when you qualify for both programs. You can’t have both Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. Medigap helps cover expenses that Original Medicare does not cover, such as co-pays and deductibles. Due to the enrollment restrictions, you should strongly consider Medigap when you first become eligible.

The Right Choice for You

With all the different plans, parts, choices, and restrictions, it is crucial to consider your priorities for care. Limited access to doctors and hospitals may become important if you need specialized medical care, such as cancer treatment. Before enrolling, consider what specialty hospitals are included in Advantage plans. Likewise, Advantage plans can make it difficult to see a specialist for ongoing and chronic conditions due to limitations in long-term care services. An estate planning lawyer or elder law attorney can help address long-term care planning and the potential to qualify for Medicaid when necessary.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has put together a cost analysis to help you determine when Medicare Advantage would save you money. As you can see, the longer you stay in the hospital, the less advantageous an Advantage plan becomes.

Consumer Reports notes that the JAMA reported that seniors on Advantage plans often get more preventive care than those on traditional Medicare plans. JAMA published a comprehensive paper about how Medicare plan choice affects spending and discovered that Medicare Advantage enrollees usually spend less.

Consumer Reports notes that the JAMA reported that seniors on Advantage plans often get more preventive care than those on traditional Medicare plans. JAMA published a comprehensive paper about how Medicare plan choice affects spending and discovered that Medicare Advantage enrollees usually spend less.

A Guide in Choices after 65

Enrolling in the right Medicare coverage is one of many decisions that will affect your quality of life in your senior years. We are here to help you navigate a wide variety of choices.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

- Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Traditional Medicare

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