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Estate Planning Can Promote Family Unity

 Posted on April 11, 2017 in Estate Planning

DuPage County estate planning attorneysIf you were to ask your family members—including your spouse, children, grandchildren, or anyone else you wish to include—how your property should be distributed when you die, you would probably get a wide variety of responses. Some are likely to suggest that you divide your estate equally, though there are likely to be many versions of what “equal” means. Other family members may simply remind you that you have the right to make the decisions as you see fit.

Human emotion, however, is often unpredictable. Thus, the same people who tell you to do what you think is best may very well be the same ones who get upset when they find out that their inheritance is less than they expected to be. While you cannot control how your family will behave after your death, you can take steps to prepare them for that reality well in advance.

Decide What Is Important

You absolutely do have the right to do whatever you wish with your estate. It is also important, however, to think about how your choices could affect your loved ones and family members down the road. You may not really care very much if family members are hurt or feel slighted by your choices; after all, you will not be around to witness it. That is also your right.

For many individuals, healthy family relationships are much more important than the particular property or assets each beneficiary will receive. While you may not be able to prevent every family dispute, you may have the ability to affect your surviving family both negatively and positively with your estate planning decisions. Make them wisely.

Take Your Time

When you hear that more than half of all Americans do not have any type of estate plan in place, you may be tempted to hurriedly put together a will. As with most important choices in life, the decisions you make during the estate planning process require careful thought and analysis. For example, choosing your executor, a trustee, or a power of attorney should be more than naming the first person who comes to mind. You must be sure that these individuals are willing and capable of carrying out their assigned duties and no professional or personal conflicts of interest. It is also important for your chosen heirs and beneficiaries to respect and trust the individuals you appoint to administrative roles.

Along the same lines, you should also think carefully about what each of your heirs will receive. While “equal” may be your goal, equal can be rather subjective unless your estate plan directs your executor to sell your property and distribute the proceeds evenly. For example, you could leave $10,000 in cash to one of your children and a watch currently valued at $10,000 to another child. In terms of value, both are equal inheritances, but they may not seem equal depending on the circumstances—which may include the sentimental value of your personal belongings.

Secrets Are Divisive

Perhaps the most important thing you can do—other than creating an estate plan—is to talk to your family and loved ones about your plan. It may require a series of discussions and probably will not be easy at first, but doing so can prevent surprises when your will executed upon your death. Be upfront about your decisions and your reasons, and allow your family to voice their concerns. These conversations could even inspire you to revise your will or other documents to ensure they accurately reflect your wishes.

If you have questions about the estate planning process and how it can affect your family, contact an experienced Lombard estate planning attorney. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation at A. Traub & Associates today.



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