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Connecticut Phone: 203-661-5222 | New York Phone: 914-397-2400 | Florida Phone: 239-302-2768

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Keeping harmony in the family with smart estate planning

The more complex your estate, the more you worry about how and what your children should inherit after you are gone. Ideally, you want everyone to be happy, but you suspect there may be some infighting over assets. Here are four estate planning tips for maintaining harmony among your heirs.

1. Name the right trustee

If establishing a trust, think carefully about the person you want to serve as trustee. The more assets you have, the more complicated his or her job will be. There will be specific financial and legal responsibilities. You want someone who can handle the many tasks, but who will also ask for help from professionals like an attorney and an accountant when necessary. You also want a trustee who can get along well with your heirs.

2. Create separate trusts

Some parents solve potential issues among siblings by creating separate trusts for each child. This also means individual trustees. Separate trusts create privacy; one child need not know about another child’s business.

3. Write two wills

Another concept for parents who worry about how their children will fare after their demise is to write two wills. A financial will is for the assets you leave to your children while an ethical will conveys your guidance and helps them understand how best to use those assets.

4. Start a family conversation

Perhaps you have the chance to sit down with your attorney and work out your estate plan, or perhaps you are going to update an existing plan. As important as that is, you should begin by initiating a family conversation about wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other estate planning topics. Tell your children what your plans are, and pay attention to their thoughts, concerns and objections. Getting all opinions on the table now goes a long way toward mitigating disputes and keeping harmony in the family after you are no longer around to act as referee.

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