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Relationships, values and money in estate planning

People often think estate planning revolves around money. The goal, after all, is to decide what to do with your assets after you pass away.

That may be true, but experts say that things like values and relationships are actually much more important than money. They are the things that really drive these conversations and determine the outcome of the estate plan.

For instance, maybe one of your values is to extend your life and stay with your family as long as you can. That may mean putting more money aside for end-of-life care and making a very thorough medical power of attorney or advance directive to ensure that your wishes are known. Or, maybe one of your values is education. That may mean putting more of your money into educational trusts for your college-aged heirs so that they don't have to worry about the money.

Relationships, naturally, play a big role. Maybe you had a better relationship with one heir than another; does that change who gets your assets? Or, maybe you really want your heirs to have strong relationships with each other. That could mean working hard to divide things in a fair manner that gives everyone what they want and helps them avoid disputes and arguments.

No matter what your goals are, it's clear that this process deals with more than money. You have a lot of factors to consider, and you probably want to talk carefully with your heirs as you make these choices. Be sure you know exactly what legal steps to take to set up the right plan.

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