As with most things in life, people tend to have different views of what is and is not fair or just. Such is often the case when family members disagree about estate planning matters. When personal financial gain is at stake, personal opinions tend to be strong and can result in arguments and irreparable family rifts.
It used to be that an individual or couple drafted a will in private with their attorney and called it a day. Today, however, consumers have grown more sophisticated about estate planning and, as such, take a more active role in ensuring their wealth is distributed accordingly and wishes are carried out as planned. Even the most basic of estate plans, however, can grow complex when changes occur that impact intended heirs and beneficiaries.
According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 40 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have at least one immediate step-relative. For many, the growing complexity of the American familial structure has increased the need for more creative and deliberate estate planning decisions.
For example, parents must make decisions about whether or not to include the spouses of grown children. If spouses are included, in the event a divorce occurs, steps must be taken to omit those impacted. Likewise, some struggle with whether and how to provide for grandchildren or step-grandchildren. In some cases, grandparents may decide to pay a certain portion of a grandchild’s education. What happens, however, if a grandchild chooses not to attend college or if a grown child doesn’t have children?
When it comes to families, it’s nearly impossible to please everyone all the time. This can be especially true when it comes to estate planning and those who are making the decisions would be wise to disclose plans and wishes to loved ones while also remaining true to their own personal beliefs and goals.
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, “What Business Owners Should Discuss With Their Tax Planners,” Karen E. Klein, Oct. 29, 2013.