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Estate planning acrimony: What’s the biggest trigger?

What might interfere most with your expectation as an adult child that mom and dad’s estate plan is going to leave you with “X” amount of money?

In other words, what might most reasonably derail your decidedly confident view and turn that inheritance into, well, just a little “x?”

Could it be a simple mistake on your parents’ part? A misreading of the will? The simple fact that you misgauged the amount of family wealth available for transfer to you?

A recent poll by financial management company TD Wealth suggests that it is likely to be something else altogether.

Namely this: family battles.

Just consider for a moment the evolution of the American family over decades. What often was a simple collective unit of father, mother and biological kids in “the old days” has now morphed in millions of instances into far more singular and differentiated family compositions.

TD Wealth notes, for example, “more blended families, multiple ex-spouses, kids from prior marriage and situations where one spouse is much younger than the other.”

All the people involved in those linked relationships are going to want their money and/or other assets, right? And many of them are going to make legal waves if they are materially surprised with a final estate settlement.

Just as you will be if challenges ensue.

So, there it is. Planning professionals say that it is family tension that most often accounts for a less-than-smooth estate accounting.

Unsurprisingly, miscommunication is a key catalyst stirring discontent, with it being just as clear that candid and timely family conclaves regarding estate matters are the antidote to later stresses and breakdowns.

Every estate planning professional knows that and is heartened when family members proactively address estate matters and considerations now that will inevitably arise later.

“Clue your beneficiaries in on the how and why of your estate plan,” says a TD Wealth principal.

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