Avoiding Family Squabbles Over Your Estate

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Oct 12, 2015

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Idaho - Boise and the Treasure Valley

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SHOULD YOU RELY ON WILL POWER TO BEQUETH ASSETS? The more complex your estate, the more ill-advised that choice becomes. Having only a will in place when you die may not be enough. As MarketWatch noted recently, research from the Williams Group (a major estate planning firm) indicates that estate fights reduce inherited wealth for as many of 70% of families.

INHERITANCE IS NO SIMPLE MATTER. In a simpler world, an individual with a $3 million estate could pass away and simply leave $1 million each to his or her children enough said, over and done. But life isn't so simple: one heir may deserve more money as a result of a disability or fate dealing out hardships, while another may truthfully deserve less due to his or her behavior, or his or her financial success. If you feel one heir should receive more of your estate than another, that wish needs to be articulated in your estate planning. Stating these wishes before you pass away (the why, the how, the how much) and letting your heirs know how you feel isn't cruel candor now is preferable to confusion and in-fighting later.

BEYOND MONEY, WHAT ABOUT POSSESSIONS & REAL PROPERTY? Homes, businesses, raw land, antiques, artwork, collectibles, heirlooms, and pets: your children and grandchildren may have different perceptions of their future value, and disagree on their destiny. Being clear about who is going to get what today (and why specific decisions are being made) may help defray potential legal challenges tomorrow.

CONSIDER LEAVING SOME THINGS UP TO THE KIDS. You could call in appraisers to set values for your real and personal property, make a list of those assets and their values, and subsequently allow your heirs to take turns choosing the possessions or properties they want to inherit. If a squabble breaks out between heirs over this or that item, you can settle it with a family auction that item goes to the highest bidder when you pass away.

LIVING WILLS? THOSE CAN PROVE QUITE VALUABLE. You may not die suddenly, and you could be incapacitated for a period just prior to your death. Should that be the case, a living will (also called an advance directive) can articulate how you want to be treated. Additionally, a health care proxy document can appoint someone (known legally as a health care agent) to authorize doctors and nurses to carry out those directions. A health care proxy is also crucial in instances when a younger individual becomes severely disabled.

Editors Note: Footnotes, disclosures and sources: Securities, advisory services and insurance products are offered through Investment Centers of America, Inc. (ICA), member FINRA, SIPC and a Registered Investment Advisor, and affiliated insurance agencies. CFP and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM are marks owned by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. This mark is awarded to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Boards initial and ongoing certification requirements. This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates.

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