California played a significant role in the nation's history where early-American farming and homesteading are concerned. Many estate owners have had the same parcels of land in their families, spanning several generations. When land owners enter the estate planning process, however, many of these homesteads become bones of contention when heirs squabble over what to do with the land.
Many estate owners make the mistake of being too vague when it comes to executing a plan regarding a family homestead. Perhaps they don't want to appear favorable toward one adult child over the other, or they simply can't make up their own minds regarding who should make decisions about the land, and what should become of it. At heart, many hope their beneficiaries will continue to farm the land and keep it in the family.
Discussing one's wishes ahead of time with adult children is one of the easiest ways to avoid negative surprises. Having a concrete plan in mind and making sure everyone clearly understands the roles they'll play can help prevent disagreements when the time comes to administer an estate. Deciding the fate of one's land is often better left to an actual estate owner; when various heirs must decide, disputes may arise that linger for decades.
Some California residents take a contingency-based approach to the estate planning process. In short, they include stipulations that say land will be sold and cash distributed equally among heirs, should heirs be unable to forge amicable agreements regarding the fate of the land within a certain amount of time. To avoid estate planning problems that often lead to family discord, an estate owner may want to ask an experienced attorney to review a proposed plan and offer suggestions for changes, if needed.
Source: retirementwatch.com, "The Worst Estate Planning Mistakes", Bob Carlson, Accessed on April 26, 2017