While the contemplation of your eventual demise is never at the top of anyone’s list, there is satisfaction from the feeling that you have taken care of issues and provided for those you love. But unwitting mistakes can wreck your careful planning and even lead to family fighting and estrangement of the very people you hope to benefit.

Not only does estate planning help to benefit your children and other heirs when you are no longer here, it is also a means of keeping the family peace long after you are gone. “Keeping The Family Together: Planning Ahead To Avoid Family Strife Later On” is a timeless article from the July 18, 2014, edition of Mondaq that is worthy of your review in this matter.

  • Don’t Hide Your Estate Plan. You do not need to share every detail of your will or the rest of your estate plan, but you should let them know what to expect before you pass away. It gives them a chance to ask questions, avoid surprises, and time to accept your reasoning.
  • Treat The Kids The Same, Even If You Have A Black Sheep And A Prodigal Son. The Mondaq article warns against disinheriting one child, since they might sue and this can trigger delays, expenses and attorneys’ fees. All of that lessens the estate for all of your beneficiaries.
  • Watch Out for Conflicts of Interest When Selecting Executors and Trustees. The article points out that the estate planning attorney who drafted your will or trust may have a conflict of interest if they also are your executor or trustee. This is particularly important to look at if he or she is also a fiduciary for other family members who are also beneficiaries.
  • Make Periodic Reviews of Your Estate Plan. Your situation as well as those of family members will change over the years. In addition, federal and state tax laws continue to be modified with every new administration or legislature. Schedule regular meetings with your estate planning attorney to look at your plan to see that it’s current and complete.
  •  Anticipate Possible Changes in Family Circumstances. As you set out specific bequests, think about which of your family will be able to hold onto an asset, and whether you should set up a trust to help them do so.

So what is the Golden Rule of Estate Planning? Maybe it is to start now, get the information you need to make smart decisions, and work with an estate planning attorney.

Reference: Mondaq (July 18 2014) “Keeping The Family Together: Planning Ahead To Avoid Family Strife Later On

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.