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Smooth estate administration involves more than the plan itself

A thorough estate plan covers every detail and includes strategic contingencies. But even the best laid plans can result in problems during the administration of an estate when expectations don't align. A lot of estate conflicts arise when beneficiaries either expect or assume that their parents have made certain decisions regarding their inheritance.

For example, a child may plan to use an inheritance to pay off student loan debt or a mortgage. What if their parents leave their estate to a charitable organization? What if there are two children and each inherits a different amount? In these cases, the child who receives less may think that a parent loved the other more. The truth may be that the parent thought the other child needed more help than a financially stable one.

More and more parents from the baby boomer generation are leaving a significant portion if not all of their wealth to charitable organizations. In fact, approximately one third of parents from this generation have made that decision in their estate plans. This trend is prompted by a number of different ideas, such as the feeling that a parent has already sacrificed for their children or the fear that the child will take the gift for granted.

Although nearly a third of the baby boomer generation feels this way, their children don't. An survey found that one in four of kids who fall in the 18 to 59 age range expect an inheritance with a median value of $50,000 to $100,000.

Managing expectations can help avoid not only conflict but also misplaced emotions. Parents don't have to divulge every little detail of an estate plan, but a general discussion that sets out the intent behind certain decisions can help prepare a beneficiary and avoid confusion.

An estate attorney in College Station not only provides the service of drafting an estate plan, but he or she can also be a great resource for advice on how to set expectations and have that estate discussion.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Kids and Money: If you plan to leave an inheritance, manage expectations," Steve Rosen, Oct. 14, 2013

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