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Preventing family conflict is possible through estate planning

Estate battles involving celebrities are often witnessed in the news, but these fights often happen for typical families in the state of Texas as well. Family structures that are complex are becoming increasingly common. As a result, some steps, including estate planning, are necessary to prevent unnecessary conflict between family members following the death of a loved one who has left behind assets for the family.

If there is no estate plan in place when the owner of assets passes away, the court will rely on the state's intestacy laws to determine how the deceased estate owner's assets will be distributed. However, not all family situations in modern times are accounted for in state laws -- for instance, a child born posthumously. For this reason, estate plans are more critical now than ever before.

One sticking point when it comes to estate planning is whether to divide assets in a manner that is fair or that is equal. For instance, in a family with a special needs child, the parents may consider giving more assets to this child the fair thing to do since he or she cannot provide for himself or herself. However, distributing assets to all of the children on a basis that is unequal may spark animosity down the road. It can be helpful for parents to decide on the path to take and then address the matter with the children upfront so that there are no surprises later.

It is natural for residents of Texas to avoid the process of estate planning because they fear death. In other cases, families do not want to have to face the conflicts that might crop up during the process of planning. However, an attorney can help estate owners to accurately memorialize their wishes and intentions in wills as well as communicate these intentions now in the most efficient way possible.

Source: wealthmanagement.com, "How to Prevent Feuds Among Heirs", Anna Sulkin, April 10, 2017

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