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Trends in estate planning put emphasis on values

Modern families often involve complex relationships, and sometimes this complexity can make decisions difficult during the estate planning process. Individuals creating wills may need to consider stepchildren, divorces, adoptions and other nontraditional family structures. With these issues in mind, our Orlando readers might be interested to hear that benefactors are beginning to use personal values to divide property in their wills.

Estate planners must first decide who will be included in a will, but sometimes that process is not as simple as passing on an equal share to each beneficiary. Some planners choose to allocate different portions, even among their own children.

Reasons to split an estate into unequal shares vary for each situation. For instance, some Florida parents leave more to a child who is less well off than to other children. Or maybe more funds are allocated to a family because they have a child with special needs.

Family disputes can arise in such cases. To avoid disputes, it is usually a good idea for estate planners to have a good talk with their loved ones at the time the will is created and offer reasons for the unequal property distribution.

Individuals put off creating a will for a variety of reasons, including a level of discomfort with dividing assets among loved ones. Failure to create a will can mean property is allocated in a way that does not follow the estate owner's value structure, but creating a document that is unpopular with family members could also result in challenges of estate execution.

In any case, Florida residents who have complex family structures would do well to consult with a legal professional with experience in comprehensive estate planning.

Source: The Seattle Times, "Setting up a will to pass on 'spiritual' estate planning passes on values of departed," Donna Gehrke-White, Jan. 6, 2013

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