Leaving An Inheritance? How To Prevent Problems

A will is your last message to your loved ones. Too bad that message is often misinterpreted. Set the record straight with these tactics.

By Kate Ashford

Whether you are going to inherit an estate or leave one behind, the best strategy is to communicate while there’s still time to change plans if someone objects. Here’s how to handle it with…

Your Parents
    * Talk it out. Discuss estate planning while they’re still capable, rather than when they’re in the early stages of dementia or another illness.
    * What to say: "I’m doing some financial planning, and it would help to have a sense of how you’re handling your affairs."
    * Clue them in. If your parents reveal that they’re appointing you and your brother co-executors, and the two of you can’t stand each other, speak up. Your mom may think her plan will bring you together, not plunge you into the seventh circle of hell. Set her straight now.
    * Suggest a third party. If you’re concerned about your parents’ choice of executors, ask them to appoint an objective third party.
    * Another option: Family mediation, to make sure everyone is in agreement on how things will proceed after your parents are gone.

Your Adult Kids
    * Prepare them. If you’re making one child an executor, make sure she’s okay with that responsibility. Then inform your other children. Explain your thinking. If your will treats your children unequally, or disinherits someone, let the person know up front, and tell her why. At the very least, write a letter that can be opened with your will.

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