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Keeping Your Estate Plan From Becoming an Estate Fight

The most common thing that propels a person into our offices to do estate planning is a terrible experience administering the estate of a loved one. Whether it’s what we term a “family dynamics” issue, an ambiguous plan, or a plan that seemed great when mom and dad came up with it but then proved unworkable, we have heard all manner of stories about what can happen when a plan goes wrong. As our regular readers know, we love to go to the mat to fight for our clients when these things happen, but as the person creating the plan, you want things to go more easily.

That is why we are here for you. We can help you come up with a plan that works for you and your family, whether you need to address issues of a blended family, a beneficiary with special needs, or simply have a hard time telling your children that “fair” and “equal” aren’t always the same thing. Indeed – we have experience with getting the whole family in one room and accepting all of the blame for a plan that leaves some children dissatisfied – this is a fight that we can take on for you so that you can worry about more important things.

Our job is to help people come up with these plans, here are a few questions that you should ask yourself and your spouse before you come up with your estate plan:

  1. What should happen to our estate? Should it be split equally? Is there a beneficiary who needs a larger share to care for a special need? Should we treat our children all equally, or have your property to your children and mine to my children?
  2. Do we have any desire to give to charity? Our church? Good friends who have been like family to us? Extended family?
  3. What about the family business? Does one child work in it while the other children have moved on from it? Is it fair to leave it equally to the children in that case? How do I ensure that my key employees stay on with my child?
  4. What about the vacation house? Should I leave it equally to my kids? Should I leave it in trust? Will my kids use it?
  5. Can my kids work together or do they need oversight? Should I have a third party like a sibling or another friend be the administrator of the estate to keep my kids from fighting?

All of these are great questions to get you started thinking about your estate plan, and get us started building it. If you would like to have your estate plan prepared, updated, or just reviewed to make sure it makes sense, call us and schedule a consult.

Ben Worsowicz is an Associate at Lardiere McNair, LLC.  To read more about our firm, please visit www.lawyerscolumbusohio.com.

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