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Estate planning can help prevent family feuds

When people in Pennsylvania pass away, family fights over inheritance can squander the value of the estates they leave behind. Planning to deal with hurt feelings and family drama can be an important part of preparing an estate plan on par with the writing of the actual key estate documents. In one poll by TD Wealth, 44 percent of trust officers, attorneys and accountants said that the biggest threat to the viability of an estate was family conflict and discontent. As families grow and change, the potential for conflict can increase. They could eventually involve current and former spouses as well as children from multiple relationships.

This means that a family conflict can not only lead to hurtful interactions and damaged relationships but also significant financial costs to the estate's value. In order to avoid these types of disputes and protect the value of the estate, it can be important to consider the potential of conflict during the estate planning process. When people avoid dealing with issues and do not even draw up a will, hard feelings can result when the estate is left to be divided according to state intestacy law.

While strictly equal division, like state-mandated shares, may seem just on the surface, vastly different relationships can lead to a strong perception of unfairness. For example, in the case of a family business, it may be important to pass it solely to the most involved child. At the same time, the business owner may want to devise other property to his or her other children as a form of compensation.

The process of determining the future of a person's assets can be emotional but also important for peace of mind and family relationships. An estate planning attorney can help a client make key decisions and draw up the documents, such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney, that formalize those plans.

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