Making estate planning a family affair

Many people in California have concerns about wills, estates and trusts but often feel they are too busy to do anything about it. After all, most people don't reach a level of financial success and responsibility by spending too much idle time. It is also common for people, to make another serious mistake when it comes to estate planning: They don't spend enough time discussing their estate plan with their heirs and loved ones.

Estate planning requires the help of an attorney with specific knowledge of California's complex tax and estates and trusts laws, but it also takes a certain understanding of family relationships and expectations to make the estate plan work out to its fullest potential. When it comes to knowledge, a California estates and trusts attorney can provide the nuts and bolts, but it may be up to the client to work out the family communication.

But of course the client can, and should, rely on their attorney to help explain and discuss the estate plan and its intricacies with family members and heirs. A recent news article explained how a "family meeting" with the attorney to discuss estate planning is a very valuable use of time, even for the busiest people.

These family meetings can help get everyone on the same page as far as inheritance expectations and duties, as well as the simple, but important, details such as where the will is to be kept or what to do in case of incapacitation. It also gives heirs and survivors a chance to build a relationship with the attorney, as their paths will be intertwined throughout the process. The family meeting could be a ticket to a smoother, more agreeable estate planning and administration process for everyone involved.

Source: "ESTATE PLANNING: Plan A Family Meeting," Curtis Kaiser, April 8, 2013

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