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Conversation is an important aspect of estate planning

Losing a loved one is a thought no one wants to dwell on. This is one reason why so many people have difficulty broaching the subject of estate planning. Furthermore, many people may be uncomfortable discussing financial matters with loved ones, which can also throw a wrench in estate planning conversations.

Even though discussing a will may not be the easiest conversation to have with family members, it may be very important. One observer notes that setting expectations for potential beneficiaries can be very helpful. If a person understands what they are -- or aren't -- receiving when a loved one passes, there won't be any surprises.

The important thing to note is that having a conversation about inheritances can be beneficial regardless of the testator's relative wealth. For example, some people who have significant assets might not want to give it all to their children. According to U.S. Trust, a significant share of wealthy baby boomers intend to give their assets to charity, rather than their family. If these individual's inform their children about this plan, the expectation will be set appropriately.

Problems can arise when an estate is administered and an individual is mistakenly expecting to receive an inheritance. If a person plans to use an inheritance to pay down debt, for example, and she isn't a beneficiary, then that could create hardship and hard feelings.

Having an honest, clear discussion about estate plans could prevent family disputes -- or the possibility of a contested will. In fact, this is a discussion that may need to be revisited, as a person's assets can change significantly between the time an estate plan is created and administered.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Kids and Money: If you plan to leave an inheritance, manage expectations," Steve Rosen, Oct. 14, 2013

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