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Estate planning can minimize the specter of family conflicts

It takes some attention and common sense thinking for persons in Ohio or anywhere else to write up a will that will minimize the prospect of later family conflicts. The way things are written impacts on whether some family members may feel slighted or otherwise "left out" of the loop. Some phrasing or certain appointments may plant an idea with one or more family members that others are receiving special treatment. Good estate planning, in cooperation with an experienced estates attorney, will minimize greatly the chances of family dissension.

One consideration is to name the right executor. Instead of picking the oldest son or the trusted best friend, pick someone who also has the temperament and skills to manage an estate administration. Pick an organized person of unquestioned ethics and integrity. Another method is to give specific items of personal property to named beneficiaries.

Where one child has sentimental value over certain items these can be passed through the will. This action can be accompanied by a proviso that if the children do not agree on certain bequests or on how to divide up personal belongings then the executor must sell the disputed items. The cash proceeds will then go into the estate account.

It is prudent to make reasonable bequests that do not take decades to make final distribution. This may be especially important where the testator had a second marriage and there is a mix of beneficiaries from both marriages. It is also best for the testator to have a family meeting where he or she explains any unequal bequests and the reasons for them.

The family meeting is an ideal time to clear up all questions and potential clouds. By hearing it from the source, this generally stifles dissension at a later time. These are some of the strategies that have survived the test of time in Ohio and elsewhere. Estate planning is a complex process but some common sense steps can help to avoid confusion and misunderstanding among family members.

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