Who to include in estate planning discussions

People in Florida and elsewhere who are beginning to consider how their assets should be passed along after they die often wonder who to share their thoughts with. Some people may embrace in-laws and others may only wish include children and grandchildren in their estate planning.

Wealth a family holds is likely to dissipate over time and over generations. Only about 10 percent of families succeed in passing family wealth along to a fourth generation. Therefore, experts advise that clients be very deliberate in the estate planning process and not conduct it behind closed doors. Many advisers are now making a push for their clients to include family members in the discussions and plans. Even if some family members aren't entirely happy with the plans, at least they aren't going to be shocked when the time comes for assets and property to be distributed.

What the parents or grandparents see as perfectly reasonable may raise the hackles of younger adult children. An example of this is a plan to divide a family business between only the male heirs or a grandmother's plan to write checks grandchildren that might leave her childless son or daughter out of the equation. Sometimes a simple conversation can make benefactors understand the concerns of their heirs.

Planning distributions of property can be a complex issue and an attorney may be able to offer advice on how best to make plans that are equitable and help the assets last for future generations. As personal and financial circumstances change over time, it may be advisable to have an attorney conduct periodic reviews of estate planning documents.

Source: Reuters, "Who is family when it comes to estate planning?", Beth Pinsker, October 29, 2013

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