One of the advantages of having an estate plan is that there’s less chance that your family and other beneficiaries (or people who think they should be beneficiaries) will battle over your assets. Even if you have a close-knit family whom you’re certain would never turn on one another, the sad fact is that money combined with long-simmering resentments can cause serious family battles.

You don’t have to disclose the contents of your estate plan to your family. However, if you’re making decisions that you think could surprise or disappoint people, it might be best to let them know about them while you’re still around. The important thing is that they understand that you were fully aware of your decisions, have reasons for them and haven’t been unduly influenced by anyone.

If you’re concerned about people (including distant family members) coming out of the woodwork, so to speak, to challenge your estate, a revocable living trust can help keep it private. Unlike a will, a revocable trust doesn’t go through probate in Ohio. That means it doesn’t have to be made public, where anyone can look at it. There are many other advantages to placing assets like your home and some of your accounts in a living trust while you’re still around.

Some people put a no-contest clause in their will and other estate planning documents. This stipulates that anyone who challenges it in court will lose any inheritance they might have otherwise received. This can be helpful in deterring people who may not be happy with how much you left them from filing a lawsuit.

It’s important to talk to your estate planning attorney about these and other steps you can take to avoid battles among your heirs and other disputes when you’re gone. They can advise you based on the contents of your estate and your unique family situation.