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Complicated modern families top threat to estate plans

Complicated modern families cause the most estate planning problems in Florida and elsewhere, according to a poll by TD Wealth. The survey, which involved 109 accountants, attorneys and trust officers, was conducted at the 52nd Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning in Orlando in January.

TD Wealth found that 44 percent of the survey's respondents said that family conflicts were the top reason for estate planning problems. This was attributed to the rise of blended families, which often include several former spouses, children from multiple marriages and spouses with large age differences. Unrealistic expectations and lack of communication were also frequent causes of tension. For example, many heirs expect to inherit over $100,000, but they typically end up receiving less than that. Meanwhile, nearly 70 percent of heirs have not been told how much money they will inherit.

To reduce the risk of conflict, advisers say that people should draft an estate plan. If someone fails to create a will, state law will determine how assets are divided. Experts also encourage people to tell their family members about their estate plans. This will help heirs manage their expectations and reduce conflict. They also recommend that people update their estate plans whenever there is a change in their family situation or a new tax law goes into effect.

Individuals who do not have a will or trust may wish to contact an estate planning attorney as soon as possible. An attorney could review a client's situation and draft the appropriate estate planning documents documents. Those who need to update their estate plan because of a birth, death, marriage or divorce may also benefit from consulting with an attorney.

Source: USA Today, "Poll: What's the biggest threat to your potential inheritance? Family squabbles", Darla Mercado, July 21, 2018

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