Creating an estate plan that family members will understand

Some people in North Carolina may have a will, but in some situations, a will may not be enough. There may be other elements to the estate plan as well such as powers of attorney and trusts. However, what the estate plan may not include is information that lets heirs know why certain decisions about the estate plan were made. Clarifying this may mean heirs are less likely to argue over or challenge the plan.

To create a plan that will help loved ones understand a person's intentions, the first step is to make a list of assets and debts along with the value and beneficiary. Even assets of little financial value should be included since heirs may fight over sentimental items. Next, a person should write a letter that explains why assets were distributed in a certain way. This may help forestall arguments between family members who may try to insist that an estate plan did not reflect a person's actual wishes.

It is also important to choose the right people for the various roles in an estate plan. This may include the executor, a trustee and a guardian for minor children. People should make their wishes known to these people. Finally, the plan should be reviewed at least once every few years and after major milestones.

People may want to consider estate planning as part of an ongoing conversation with family members. This may also make it less likely that the plan might be challenged. One concern might be whether loved ones will be able to responsibly manage an inheritance. A person who wants more control over how assets are distributed to beneficiaries might want to place those assets in a trust. A trust can tie asset distribution to certain milestones or may allow distributions at the trustee's discretion.

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