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Tips for dealing with family conflict in estate planning

People in Georgia should consider family dynamics carefully during the estate planning process. This includes thinking ahead as to what they would prefer to happen if a child divorces and remarries. For example, if this occurs, assets left to the child could end up going to that child's stepchildren. A trust could prevent this from happening.

An estate owner may be concerned about an adult child who has substance abuse problems or is irresponsible with money. In other situations, there may be conflict between siblings who have been named co-trustees. A trust might need to be changed if siblings have had an acrimonious falling out.

There could be conflict over who gets what. For example, one child may be deeply attached to a valuable piece of property for sentimental reasons. That child may want to keep it and have no intention of selling it. The other child may want to sell it and pay for a son or daughter's college education. Some parents may want their children to inherit property equally while others might want one child to get more than another. This could be because that child has fewer resources or spent more time taking care of the parent. These and many other considerations may go into the creation of an estate plan.

An attorney could help a client create an estate plan that is less vulnerable to challenges. For example, a parent who wishes to disinherit a child entirely may want to explicitly state that in the estate plan. The will or trust should also be consistent with beneficiary designations, which are used to pass retirement accounts, life insurance and other assets. These should be reviewed and possibly updated along with the rest of the estate plan.

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