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Avoiding family feuds among beneficiaries through estate planning

One of the most important benefits of having a well-organized estate plan is have the peace of mind that comes from knowing one's relatives will not be fighting over their inheritance. In cases where property and the beneficiaries of that property are not clearly defined in estate paperwork, families can be ripped apart following one's death. For example, is it possible to divide a painting without selling it?

When a Texas resident simply states in his or her will that two beneficiaries will each get half of the estate, and does not individually parcel out personal possessions, disagreements can ensue. This is not necessarily a sign that one's beneficiaries are bad people either. Simply put, it is the responsibility of the individual who is bequeathing the property to specify who gets what in order to avoid this kind of confusion and argument.

Quarrels like this can escalate, involve lawyers and ruin the bond between brothers, sisters and other relatives. Many people forget that estate planning is not simply about money. Many people overlook the necessity of designating who is to get which personal possessions, which become (in legal terminology) non-titled property after one's death if it is not designated who is to receive it. Even a 25 cent holiday ornament could rip a family in two.

Texas residents who are preparing their estate can follow various principles of estate planning to substantially diminish the likelihood that their beneficiaries will quarrel over individual possessions inside their estate. In some ways, beyond the obvious tax and other benefits of a well-planned estate, preserving the peace in one's family after one is gone is perhaps the most valuable benefit of them all. Indeed, nobody wants his or her death to become the catalyst for a persisting family feud.

Source: consumerreports.org, "How to Spare Your Heirs a Battle Over Your Estate", , April 23, 2014

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