In the simplest terms, estate planning is two-fold: numerical and emotional. Your estate has to be inventoried and accurately valued, and assets have to be distributed in such a way that limits the emotional burden placed on your heirs. This emotional aspect can be particularly tricky in some cases, and you may have to ask yourself some important questions to come to the right decision.
For example, are there some members of your family who are not so skilled at handling their own finances? If so, then you may need to look into your options for establishing an appropriate trust. There are many to choose from, and an estate planning attorney can draft effective trust provisions to ensure the proper distribution of assets.
Family relationships can also be preserved by clearly communicating your intentions at the right moment, though the appropriate means of communication can vary with each family member. Is a heart-to-heart conversation with each person the way to go, or would you prefer a kind of family meeting? Some people would rather address these matters through letters or legal documents.
Something that is common to nearly every estate administration is the matter of property that has sentimental value. In too many cases, estate owners pass away without having spoken with family members about items that have more than monetary value. In other cases, the monetary value of a property is offset by the burden it places on the heir. For example, does your heir have the time or inclination to sell or maintain a piece of real estate?
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you address these issues with a view toward ensuring that your wishes are carried out and your family is protected.
Source: Forbes, "Estate Planning 101: Picking Your Heirs," Larry Light, Sept. 24, 2014