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Estate planning and the importance of managing expectations

When it comes to estate planning, there is often a lack of communication between aging parents and their adult children. Grown children may be unaware of whether mom or dad even has a will much less what requests are covered in that will. Regardless of actual knowledge, a recent survey conduced by Interest.com found that a quarter of those individuals ages 18 to 59 surveyed expected to receive an inheritance during their lifetime.

Despite the belief of an impending inheritance, another study conducted by U.S. Trust showed that one out of every three wealthy baby boomers did not plan to leave money to their grown children. Rather, these parents planned to give the bulk of their money to charities, citing a belief that every generation should make its own way.

Many families struggle with how to discuss estate planning matters, particularly those that relate to inheritance and assets. Grown children often don't want to appear greedy or overly eager while aging parents may be fearful of expressing their true wishes. Regardless, it's wise for all families to engage in honest and frank discussions about estate planning matters.

For those aging parents or grandparents, having direct conversations with family members provides an opportunity to express wishes and explain what may be perceived as hurtful decisions. For grown children and grandchildren, talking about estate planning matters with an aging loved one helps manage expectations and can prevent hard feelings down the road.

New York residents who have questions or concerns related to their estate plan would be wise to contact a legal professional. An attorney who specializes in estate planning can answer questions and help ensure that an individual's wishes and best interests are respected and carried out.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Kids and Money: If you plan to leave an inheritance, manage expectations," Steve Rosen, Oct. 14, 2013

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