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Trusts can help ease family disputes during estate administration

Everyone knows that family matters can be complicated. Even though relatives may truly love one another, long-standing disputes can put a strain on relationships. Unfortunately, this reality can come into play after the death of a loved one if proper steps aren't taken.

Creating a will is a solid way to plan ahead and to help make sure a person's wishes are upheld after he or she passes away. However, this still may not prevent someone from contesting a will. One leader from the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils noted that estate litigation is more common than ever and individuals should take appropriate precautions during estate planning.

When people feel as though they aren't getting a fair share of an estate or when one of the beneficiaries is viewed as unsuited for inheritance, litigation may be launched during estate administration. However, legal observers note that creating specific types of trusts may be able address these concerns and help circumvent legal disputes.

If it's possible that major beneficiaries -- a testator's children, for example -- may have differing financial needs when an estate is administered, a "sprinkle trust" can be created. This type of legal tool accommodates for a beneficiary's financial status and apportions trust payments appropriately.

Emotions can run high after a relative dies and this may only heighten disputes among family members. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that assets are distributed fairly to loved ones. An experienced estate planning attorney can sort through the complex needs of each family and help reduce the risk of lengthy, painful litigation.

Source: Bloomberg, "You Want to Cut Your Kid Out of Your Will. Or Do You?" Lewis Braham, July 23, 2013

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Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates

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