Avoiding Possible Snags in Estate Planning

How can you circumvent pitfalls and avoid future conflicts when you’re planning your estate?

One of the most difficult steps in estate planning is not a logistical one, but an emotional one:  the acceptance of mortality. Although we all know that death is inevitable, most of us have a tendency to avoid confronting its reality. This makes it difficult to plan for contingencies in a world that will no longer include us. Below are some specific areas that commonly cause trouble among loved ones left behind. It’s best to familiarize ourselves with these now, so that we can minimize any family squabbles after we’re gone.

Shared Property

While most people are well aware of the difficulties young children have when asked to share, many of us refuse to acknowledge how much conflict can develop when adults are forced to share. Designating several members of a family as recipients of equal shares of jointly owned property very often leads to trouble.

There are several reasons for this, including imbalances regarding where the heirs live (which may be different in the future than it is now), how much they earn,  and how well they get along with one another. Equally divided responsibility for property taxes and repairs, for example, may seem inequitable to a child who earns less than his or her siblings, or who uses the property being maintained more rarely.

Bequests Left to Care for Pets

In the past,  provisions in wills leaving money to care for pets were often unenforceable, but recently “pet trust” laws have been passed in every state except Minnesota.  These laws protect your pet by assigning a probate court to appoint a trustee charged with the pet’s care.  For even more control over the situation, you can draft a detailed pet trust, naming the caretaker and trustee and allocating part of your estate to cover the expenses of pet care. Because the trust is the legal owner of the pet, if for same reason the caretaker doesn’t provide appropriate care, the trustee can appoint a new one.

As this blog illustrates, estate planning is a more complicated process than it may appear to be. To avoid potential problems in asset protection and distribution, particularly those that may result in family conflict, please contact and work with one of the reputable, knowledgeable attorneys at OC Wills & Trust. 

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.