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Complex family dynamics and estate planning

Some people in Louisiana may be facing challenging family dynamics while creating an estate plan. Many estate planning advisors suggest that a successful estate plan must have an element of communication with family members. Some people write a letter of intent to go with their estate plan and explain the choices made.

People should avoid creating scenarios with the estate plan that are likely to lead to conflict. One common mistake is making one adult child a trustee. This can put that person in opposition to siblings. A more impartial choice would be a corporate trustee. Some parents may want to disinherit one child entirely, but a better plan might be to leave a small amount to that child. There could be a caveat that challenging the estate plan will mean receiving nothing. Communication within a blended family may be particularly important to explain why children from different relationships may have been treated differently.

People may want to consider using a trust if they are concerned about an heir's irresponsible spending. Distributions can be made only for specific purposes or when reaching a certain milestone. Some types of trusts may also protect assets from creditors or in case of divorce.

Estate planning may present other dilemmas as well. An attorney may be able to help a person work through different scenarios to create an estate plan that is appropriate for the family. For example, the person may want to ensure that if most of the estate goes to a surviving spouse in a blended family and the spouse remarries, the person's children and not the surviving spouse's new family will inherit those assets. A trust may be helpful in this case as well. Trusts can also help with leaving assets for family members with special needs, donating to charity and more.

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