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Estate planning can prevent family conflicts

You've done the important work of protecting your estate and resources in order to be able to leave something for your family and loved ones. You realize — unlike many California residents — that it's wise to consider how the estate planning decisions you make now may affect your family later on.

Estate planning, like accounting and other respected professions, often appears to be dry and free of emotion. However, failing to plan for the distribution of your estate can create serious conflicts between family members and other beneficiaries.

In many instances, you a can avoid contributing to these conflicts by working with an experienced estate planning professional to create estate planning strategies that respect how complicated dealing with family and money can be.

For those who are remiss in their estate-planning strategizing, the following advice may be helpful.

First, start by creating a valid will that outlines your wishes clearly. Make sure that you update it when your priorities change, e.g., after a divorce or the death of a spouse or other beneficiary. Many conflicts arise because someone passes away without establishing their wishes in writing through a legally viable will.

If you plan to include elements in your will that you expect to generate conflict, take extra care to make your wishes clearly known. For instance, if you wish to exclude some individual who would otherwise rightfully inherit from you, it is wise avoid simply leaving this person out of the will entirely. This may allow them to claim that you merely forgot to include them. Instead, it is useful to list the names of individuals you wish to exclude, to clarify your intentions.

Navigating these issues can become overwhelming. Don't hesitate to reach out to an estate planning attorney to guide you through complicated planning scenarios and identify all the options you have available. You may find you can use solutions that you did no know even existed, helping you fairly address your wishes while minimizing conflicts and protecting your legacy.

Source: Findlaw, "How to Minimize Inheritance Fights Between Relatives," George Khoury, Esq, accessed Nov. 09, 2017

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