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Family conflicts and how they affect estate planning

Sibling rivalries and blended families may be among the issues a person in Florida has to consider when creating an estate plan, and the problem can become even more complex if the family is wealthy. Estate planning advisers suggest including a letter of intent that explains the reasoning behind the estate plan as well as open communication with family members to help reduce the conflict that may arise after a person’s death.

Trusts can be useful if an heir is irresponsible with money. They can also protect assets against undue influence from others, divorce and creditors. A trust can be structured so that distributions are only allowed for certain reasons, such as to purchase a home, or when a person reaches a milestone, such as a certain age.

Sibling rivalry is one reason experts may also advise against appointing a person as trustee of a trust that covers all the siblings. An adult child may be placed in a difficult position, and a neutral third party, such as a corporate trustee, may be a better choice. Trusts may also be helpful in blended families. It is important to not leave any family members out. Creating a charitable trust or family foundation can bring together a blended family to work toward the same philanthropic goal.

Estate planning does not end with just making the plan; it is important to review it from time to time. What may have seemed like an excellent strategy to avoid estate tax two decades ago may no longer be since the estate tax exemption has increased considerably. In addition to changes in laws and a person’s assets, a family may change as well. Births, deaths, marriages and divorces may necessitate a change in how assets are distributed as well as in the executor or other roles.