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Estate administration: Do your parents have an estate plan?

Like many other people, most Texas residents have accumulated assets that will be left behind upon their passing. Usually there are children involved and parents do not readily share their medical, financial and overall estate plan with them. These tend to be tough conversations to have with children. Some parents may not quite realize how important it is to include their children in planning for estate administration issues so that there is no surprise when action does become necessary.

Many parents tend to have outdated estate plans that may end up complicating relationships between siblings. Their estate is sometimes spread out all over the place without clear designations of who is intended to receive a particular asset. This quickly becomes a matter of who gets what as siblings argue over the distribution of property.

Some parents fear insulting their other children if they only name one as the executor and/or trustee. In this instance, the estate ends up with multiple trustees. When this happens, there's a greater chance that the siblings will not agree on how to divide the estate up evenly, and they sometimes end up in Texas court to have matters settled that the parents could have more simply resolved before their passing.

The distribution of property and other assets may go more smoothly when these issues are discussed as a family. Parents may gain by involving their children in planning for the estate administration process, and children may benefit by bringing the matter to their parents' attention, if necessary. Parents that ensure their children have a clear understanding of why the estate will be divided in a particular manner may help avert problems before they arise. The best first step is to determine if any existing documents are up to date, and it always make good sense to schedule regular reviews in order to be certain a plan already in place fits current expectations.

Source: patriotledger.com, "MAKING CENTS: What does your parents' estate plan do?" John Napolitano, April 22, 2013

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