How emotions can complicate estate administration

| May 10, 2021 | Probate and Estate Litigation

It is impossible to take all emotions out of the process of settling a person’s affairs after they pass away. 

However, people should know how their emotional responses can affect the process – and it’s not always for the best.

Emotions and decision making

As one article from Psychology Today notes, a person’s logical reasoning can suffer when emotions run high. They can make knee-jerk decisions that fail to consider long-term consequences and the extent to which their choices affect others.

In the context of estate administration, it is certainly possible for emotions to motivate unwise or unproductive decisions. For instance:

  • Grief and sadness can make it more likely for people to accept a less-than-fair resolution
  • Anger or resentment could lead a person to make decisions that punish others rather than benefit themselves
  • Anxiety can be debilitating during a stressful event, preventing a person from making timely, rational decisions
  • Loneliness can make it difficult for a person to reach out for help

With this in mind, it can be best not to act rashly, whether you are the person administering an estate or a beneficiary affected by the administration process.

Getting help with your decisions

Rather than taking on the entire burden of decision-making during a painful time, you can seek assistance from others. 

Consulting outside professionals like an attorney can guide your decisions by helping you understand legal ramifications and options. Financial and legal professionals can maintain objective perspectives and assist parties in making reasonable, logical choices.

Further, parties might discuss their emotional responses with loved ones, counselors, therapists, religious or spiritual advisors. With this type of help, people can acknowledge and address their feelings, making it easier to balance logic with emotions.

Again, it is impossible to remove all emotion from decision-making after a loved one passes away. But recognizing how emotions affect logic and knowing where to go for help can empower a person to make rational, sound decisions.

Having said that, it remains critically important for adults to craft solid estate plans. These documents provide valuable guidance for those who must make decisions during a painful time.