Family conflict is often a major concern for estate planning

A recent survey of attorneys, trust officers and wealth management professionals shed some light into the three largest obstacles in creating an estate plan. Some Georgia residents may be surprised that the most commonly cited threat to an estate plan is family concerns.

Market fluctuations is another top concern in the list provided by planning professionals. These obstacles may be expected for estate planners. After all, nearly every estate plan provides mechanisms for income and asset growth. However, experts say that many clients fail to make sure assets are available for retirement expenses.

Tax concerns are another common threat to an estate plan. With vast changes to the tax code in 2018, planners are diligently structuring plans to maximize tax benefits and minimize adverse tax consequences. With the bigger exemptions now available for estate and gift tax, many planners recommend increasing lifetime gifts. This will help lower the overall tax burden experienced by heirs.

But the largest concern among professionals is family, especially family conflict. The surge in second marriages has led to an increase in stepchildren and step siblings. Many clients are now more concerned about the potential for their children divorcing and fear a lifetime gift to be included in a divorce settlement. Trusts have been popular to prevent this situation.

Choosing a fiduciary can be problematic due to fears of heirs feeling slighted. This is why an experienced estate planning attorney may encourage frank discussion among potential heirs or beneficiaries. Proper communication may ultimately encourage unity among family members and others who will inherit under the plan.

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