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Estate plans can prevent heated disputes between family members

Dealing with family members can sometimes be challenging. Families may have disagreements about holiday gatherings and birthday celebrations. Family members may hold different political beliefs, which can lead to interesting dinner table conversations. In most of these instances, though, disagreements can be settled in a timely manner.

That is not always true for families dealing with probate issues. Families can become involved in heated arguments when proper estate planning isn't done or when a family member's wishes have not been previously discussed.

People in Houston often spend their whole lives building up wealth and doing what they can to protect it. However, that work may be for nothing if proper estate plans aren't put in place. A will, for instance, is a common estate planning tool that outlines what should happen to an individual's valuable assets when that person dies. Shockingly, only about 30 percent of people have a valid will in place.

When a person in Houston or in another city dies without a will, surviving family members may be forced to deal with complex legal issues. The process can be lengthy and expensive. Getting an estate in order can prevent family members from having to deal with challenging legal issues during an emotional time after a loved one has died. Proper estate planning can also prevent heated disputes between family members.

A commonly held misconception is that estate planning is only intended for people with vast amounts of wealth who want to avoid estate taxes. While proper planning can help people avoid tax obligations, estate planning can also help people from all walks of life document what should happen to their valuable property.

Source: Observer & Eccentric Newspapers, "Estate planning not only for the wealthy," Rick Bloom, March 7, 2013

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