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Family drama can complicate wills and trusts

Many wealthy families in Georgia and elsewhere are concerned about the hit that the estate tax might place on their inherited wealth. In reality, however, there's another concern that many estate planning experts say is far more likely to deplete those funds. When surviving family members fight over wills and other estate planning provisions, things can become very contentious and very expensive in a short period of time. 

Part of the problem lies in how complicated the American family has become over the years. Today's family trees are likely to have far more branches than in generations past. Multiple ex-spouses, children from various unions and blended families are all situations that can complicate estate planning. 

Planning ahead is a great way to reduce the potential for discord. That means drawing up a comprehensive estate plan that meets the specific needs of the family. There are a multitude of options to ensure that family members are treated fairly, which can go a long way toward reducing conflict. 

Communicating these plans is also important. While it may require a series of uncomfortable discussions, talking to family members about what to expect gives them time to come to terms with parts of the plan that they may not have expected. It also reduces the ability of one relative to claim that he or she was blindsided by the details of the estate plan. 

Once wills and other estate planning tools are in place, it's important to review those documents every couple of years. As life moves on, family structures change. The documents drafted a few years prior may no longer reflect a Georgia resident's current intentions. A periodic review is the best way to ensure that what happens after a loss is exactly what was intended. 

Source: cnba.com, "Say hello to the No. 1 threat to your $11 million inheritance", Darla Mercado, April 11, 2018

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At Hodges Law Firm, we handle a wide range of legal issues for clients throughout the Atlanta area, including elder law, estate planning, probate, Medicaid planning and protection, asset protection, litigation, and business law and services. We are knowledgeable in the law and understand the real life implications of legal actions.