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Good estate planning can save time, money and family conflict

Some of our posts in recent months have focused on mistakes people commonly make when estate planning. While avoiding these mistakes is a very good idea, you may not understand why you should avoid certain actions. That's what we'll discuss in today's post.

For starters, the best concisely worded advice when creating an estate plan is this: Plan early, update regularly and hire a professional to help you. By doing these three things, you stand a much better chance of having your assets and possessions passed on as you intended. This will likely save considerable time, money and conflict for your family and other intended heirs.

Let's say that you create a will and set up trusts for your children decades before your time comes. If you never review and update these documents, they will likely be incomplete and may no longer represent your wishes. This means that your estate may have to go through the probate process. This is expensive, time-consuming and public. Why not spare your family from that headache and make sure that your estate plan is as up-to-date as it can be?

In addition to sparing your family from wasted time and money, you will also want to save them from conflict. Grief can sometimes manifest in unusual ways, and that includes squabbling over inheritances. Even if your family members normally get along well, the gloves may come off when a will or other aspects of the estate plan are contested. By making your estate plan clear, thorough and up-to-date, you minimize the risk of family conflict.

It's true that hiring an attorney and regularly reviewing your estate plan does take time and money. But it is far easier and cheaper for you to do the work now than to ask your family to do it later. Therefore, hiring an experienced estate planning attorney is a smart investment.

Source: CNBC, "Trust bust: Steer clear of the 8 biggest estate-planning mistakes," Barry Glassman, Oct. 22, 2014

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