Sunday, April 25, 2010

Avoiding Chaos When the "Glue" is Gone

All too often people have a "blind spot" when it comes to assessing the relationships among their children and other close family members. When I meet with clients to discuss their estate planning goals and objectives, in many instances they take the "just leave all the property equally to the kids and everything will work out" approach.

But as pointed out here, the children may only "play nice" as long as at least one of the parents is living. Once the parents have died, the family "glue" breaks down, and in all too many cases the knives may come out.

While the kids may surely fight about the money and other financial assets, as the linked article points out, it is with the personal property that a lot of the serious warfare occurs. After all, a bank account can be divided; the grandfather clock cannot.

In creating an estate plan, it is essential that serious discussion take place between you and your attorney regarding the disposition of personal effects. The wisest course of action is to specifically designate in a will, trust, or personal property memorandum which items of the significant tangible personal property -- both in a monetary and sentimental sense -- goes to which beneficiary.

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