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Putting off estate planning can lead to disputes and expenses

A recent study by an international wealth management company concludes that as family dynamics become more complex, the potential for conflicts after a family member's death increases. The survey took a national sampling, which presumably included Texas. The report states that only 28 percent of those responding said that their parents had shared their estate planning details with them.

In addition, 40 percent of the respondents that replied believed that the distribution of their parents' estates were unfair, with most of that group being unmarried children. It was also found that 25 percent of married persons indicated that only their spouse knows the location of their wills and estate planning documents. Slightly over half of the surveyed persons indicated that they had no will.

These results appear to support other national studies indicating that a surprising number of Americans are not prepared for a smooth transfer of assets to their families after death. This means that their heirs can face substantial additional expenses in trying to straighten out the complications that can arise when no legal planning is in place, or when communications during life are lacking. The failure to have a power of attorney in place can also mean extraordinary and unexpected expenses during the individual's lifetime if he or she becomes incompetent.

In Texas and throughout the country, the power of attorney is the legal instrument that is used to keep a steady control over the individual's financial affairs if mental incompetence during life occurs. There are many other legal issues that can be relevant to preserving one's assets during life, and with regard to making the right distributions after death through one's estate. These matters are best reviewed in a confidential meeting with an experienced attorney who regularly handles estate planning matters. It is counterproductive to procrastinate over matters that are financially and emotionally important in so many ways.

Source: yahoo.com, "BMO Wealth Management Report: Complex Modern Family Dynamics Impact Estate Planning", April 5, 2017

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