Meinzer Law Firm, PC

Family dynamics can shape estate planning decisions

Estate planning may seem simple enough, but depending on the circumstances at hand it can actually be quite complicated. These challenges are often the result of family dynamics. Individuals who fail to create an estate plan or create only the most basic of estate plans can have their estates fall into the hands of individuals they never intended to touch it.

For this reason, Californians who have complicated familial relationships, blended families, or strenuous circumstances may want to work closely with an estate planning attorney to best determine what they can do to ensure their assets are handed down in accordance with their wishes.

One difficult aspect of estate planning is dealing with older or adult children. This is because there can be rivalry amongst siblings, and an estate plan can fuel familial strife that sometimes leads to falling outs and contentious estate litigation. This is especially true when one child is named as a trustee or assets are left to one's children in an uneven fashion. To help ease the tension, estate planners can discuss their intentions with their children well in advance. Also, a letter of intent can make it clear why an estate was created in a certain way. This can help foster understanding and acceptance.

Another common issue is dealing with blended families. A simple estate plan may lack the foresight to provide for children from a previous marriage. For example, if one's assets are left to his or her spouse, he or she may not want to leave those assets to their deceased spouse's children from another marriage. This, in essence, leaves these children disinherited. Therefore, individuals who are in this position need to ensure that their wills and trusts clearly provide protection for these children.

Bad decision making on the part of heirs and beneficiaries can also spur estate planning decisions. By utilizing a trust, an estate planner can ensure that estate assets are only accessible when certain actions are taken. This may meant that a beneficiary has to complete some sort of treatment, graduate from college, or perform community service.

These are just a few of the many estate planning challenges that can arise. Fortunately, though, competent attorneys can help individuals ensure that these obstacles can be overcome and their minds can be put at ease.

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