In estate planning, don’t hold back information

Give your estate planning attorney information needed - The Law Office of David B. FerrellAs we’ve talked about before, everyone needs an estate plan to plan for the end of life and take care of their assets and family.

For most, estate planning is a tricky subject: it involves planning for things we’d rather not think about and examining family dynamics in new, sometimes uncomfortable ways. Many family relationships can be complicated or messy—think about the grandchildren worried about funding college, adult children whose finances are in trouble, or other adults who remarry someone disliked by the rest of the family. These complex relationships can make those creating their estate plan want to leave out information and avoid the issue, but this is a mistake. Here are a few things to consider:

Plan for a variety of scenarios: Your will and the rest of your estate plan needs to plan for not only who receives a certain asset but how they receive it. A common example is a spouse that leaves everything to the surviving spouse. When the surviving spouse passes, the estate is then supposed to go to the couple’s children. However, what happens if the surviving spouse remarries? Do you want the new wife or husband to live in the house that was supposed to go to your children? Setting up a trust in your estate plan can control property after your death. Following the example above, the trust might stipulate whether or not the new spouse can live in the house. The trust can go even further, detailing how long the new spouse can live there, depending on whether or not they remarry, etc.

Face family shortcomings: This is particularly tough for many people, but it can help your family in the long run to consider shortcomings when planning. If your older child is more responsible than the younger, for example, you might set up a trust in which the older sibling controls the inheritance for the two of them. This can be beneficial if, for example, the younger child is likely to blow a lump sum inheritance.

Think about stepchildren: With the increasing number of blended families in existence today, it’s more important to consider how your estate plan will treat stepchildren. This is particularly true if your stepchildren are already adults. Do you want to include them in your will, or do you want to provide only for your biological children?

Consider the little things: When creating a will, most people cover things like the house, the car, financial accounts, and other important items and forget to include the smaller items. What do you want to happen to a valuable family heirloom (for example, an engagement ring)? If the item is very valuable and is left out of your plan, it could cause a family squabble later on. You can choose to give these types of assets away while still living, or you can include them in your will or trust.

Work with a lawyer and stay involved: An estate planning lawyer can help you through the complexities of estate planning, including tax and financial implications. However, that does not mean you should leave everything to your lawyer: they don’t know your family like you do. You need to let your attorney know about your situation, your needs, and the family dynamics you want to address. Staying involved will ensure that your lawyer helps you create an estate plan that fully benefits you and your family.

About David Ferrell

For over 30 years, David B. Ferrell has practiced excellence in the areas of probate, estate planning, DUI, and divorce law. David Ferrell is dedicated to providing each client with personal service, trustworthy advice, and expert representation. David B. Ferrell's Google+ Profile

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