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Communication with family critical for estate planning

Many people think all they have to do when planning their estate is draft and sign a will. However, for many Delaware adults, the estate planning process can be a lot more complicated. Properly transferring wealth between generations can end in conflict, financial mismanagement and overall loss. Those who wish to ensure their funds are not squandered by the next generation should take certain steps to prepare the right estate plans.

One common misconception is that estate plans must be divided equally. However, in many cases, equal and fair mean two different things. Often, descendants have different spending habits, responsibility levels, educational ambitions, family needs and so on. For example, children who helped to build a family business may be left with more assets related to that business.

Those who are choosing to not split the estate equally, but rather in a way they consider "fair," should take steps to inform their beneficiaries of what to expect. This can go a long way in avoiding family drama following a person's death. It is also a good idea to clearly communicate expectations as to how this money should be used. While this isn't always enforceable, a one-on-one conversation can work better than a previously unseen note in a will.

Families that are spread out and do not talk regularly often face estate planning and administration challenges due to lack of communication. It is important for everyone involved to handle estate planning as early on as possible, in order to avoid surprises and make it easier to follow a person's wishes once they pass on. Once these conversations take place, a lawyer can help Delaware adults to clarify their plans under a legally binding will.

Source: Forbes, "Two Key Steps To Successful Estate Planning", Bob Carlson, May 15, 2018

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