Offered by Dolan & Associates, P.C.
Over a 20-year period, The Williams Group interviewed 2,250 families who actually went through the estate transfer process. The study found that 70% of the families lost family harmony and wasted assets in the settlement of the estate. The issue that undermined the successful implementation of the estate was the breakdown in trust and communication among family members.
So, how do we avoid our families fighting after our death and spending our hard earned assets on unnecessary battles and high-priced litigation attorneys? The single most important factor is preparation. To have an effective transition upon your death, it is critical that you have a well thought out plan that your family understands how to implement.
A common pitfall of planning is naming one family member as a beneficiary and trusting that they will divide it among the other family members. This almost always results in family problems. Since there are no written instructions, if the family member wants the assets more than maintaining a relationship with the rest of the family, they simply keep the assets. This will result in the other family members never speaking to them again, or hiring a lawyer and suing them on the assumption that you had a different intention.
Another major mistake is purchasing a will or a trust and assuming that your estate plan is complete. This is the equivalent of buying a bicycle with “some assembly required” and assuming that the project is done because you have a set of instructions and a bunch of parts. Wills and trusts are simply sets of instructions. If they are not properly implemented, it will result in a mess after your death.
Protecting your hard-earned assets and the family relationships requires time and effort. But, it is time and effort well invested for the future of your family. When putting together an estate plan you should look for professionals who are focused on getting results, not just selling you a set of instructions. If you think about it, the people selling the instructions are the ones who make money cleaning up the mess after your death.
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