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Estate issues can usually be prevented

Many different things go through a person's mind when they are trying to devise an estate plan. These things include who is going to get what and how they want to make the transfers.

There are a lot of things that go into an estate plan that can discourage family members and heirs from fighting when a person passes away. In fact, preventing fights over the estate is a primary focus of estate planning. Here are some tips for minimizing the chance of an estate battle, and some points that matter if a dispute does happen:

Estate plans must be up-to-date

You must have your estate plan up-to-date so that it is ready whenever something happens to you. Even when creating the plan, you still need to take the time to review it periodically. Most industry professionals recommend an annual review. You might need to check it in between annual reviews if you have a major life change, such as getting married, going through a divorce, having children or acquiring new assets. Make sure your estate is in compliance with California laws, or your loved ones might have to deal with the intestate process.

Go over the plan

When you have more than one person who is a beneficiary of the estate, you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Go over the estate plan now with everyone who is involved so that they can ask questions. This gives you the opportunity to clear up any perceived unfairness while you are still around to explain your choices.

Cover more than just your assets

Your estate plan should cover what is going to happen with your medical care in your final days or if you can't make decisions for yourself. It can also give instructions for your finances. Powers of attorney designations are important since you can appoint someone to handle your affairs if you are incapacitated and can't do it on your own.

No-contest clauses

If you disinherit someone, they might choose to pursue a will contest if they have a valid reason and standing to do so. You can't stop this. What you can put an end to is an heir contesting a will because they don't think they are getting their fair share. By adding a no-contest clause in the will, you are letting the heirs know that if they contest the will and lose that challenge, they will walk away without any part of the estate. This is often enough to discourage frivolous will challenges.

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