When you've been named Personal Representative of a loved one's estate, you can’t control family fights over inheritance, or insulate yourself from potential blowback from unhappy family members. What you can do is communicate early and often. Here are some tips:

TELL EVERYONE THE RULES. Let family members know that there are going to be some decisions that require collaboration. They will have the opportunity to provide input at that time. But there are also going to be decisions that you as Personal Representative will have to make on your own, and you’ll keep them informed of those, too.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If you know from the outset that family dynamics could complicate probate, consider bringing in an objective third party to help mediate. It doesn’t have to be a lawyer, just someone who can remain neutral and help resolve family fights over inheritance with patience and detachment.

DON'T ALLOW THE PROCESS TO CONSUME YOU. Probably the most important thing you can do is to take care of yourself through this difficult and emotional process. Set parameters around the time that you'll focus on probate issues, and then respect those boundaries so you can also keep up with the rest of your life.

At the end of the day, stuff is just stuff. Remember, the most valuable part of any inheritance is the family bond that a beloved parent leaves behind.

If you're experiencing family disputes over an estate or if you have questions about the probate process in general, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to find out how we can be of service. We represent clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.