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Avoid family lawsuits in California with proper estate planning

Most older Americans value items of sentimental value over money when it comes to inheritances. Use these tips to help avoid possible disputes among family members after you are gone.
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    January 23, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Avoid family lawsuits in California with proper estate planning

Article provided by Russ Charvonia
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After the death of a loved one, when families are reeling from loss and grief, issues of probate proceedings, trust administration and estate settlements often arise. Such issues are overwhelming, especially when parents, siblings or other relatives are least able to deal with them. Unfortunately, this is the time when many families become embroiled in estate planning disputes.

Estate planning is not just for wealthy individuals. According to an International Business News report, more than 50 percent of retirees in the U.S. expect to leave an average of over $175,000 to their heirs. Even a much smaller sum can mean a lot to surviving family members.

The most important items

Surprisingly, family disputes after a death rarely involve money, however. Late last year, The Wall Street Journal revealed that a vast majority of Californians -- and others across the U.S. -- over the age of 50 find the following much more important than a financial inheritance:
-Family stories and personal histories such as journals or old letters
-Heirlooms -- items of value passed down through the generations
-Family mementos -- personal property items of sentimental value

While most families fail to keep a written family history, squabbles often arise over such items as grandpa's favorite coffee mug or an inexpensive print that always hung over the mantel in the family home. Larger items, such as a small property, may be given equally to all the siblings, but one may need the cash and want to sell whereas the others want to share it as a vacation spot.

Averting distribution disputes

While you are able, start doing what you can to smooth the way for your family. Consider the following as ways to prepare them and help avoid possible disputes:
-Talk about it: Although it may be uncomfortable at first, start talking with your family members about the items they most value. It may be that your son wants the china set for his children and your daughter wants the gun collection for hers.

-Write it down: In addition to a will, trust, powers of attorney and other usual estate planningdocuments, include a memorandum that expresses your wishes for your family, your end-of-life preferences and itemizes who gets which items of personal property. If you have had a frank family conversation, no one should be surprised when your willis read after you are gone.

-Give lifetime gifts: If you have a favorite nephew or a close friend but do not want to provide for them in your will, consider giving him or her a gift while you are still alive. This way, your estate can still be equally divided among your children or other heirs.

A lawyer can help

The above tips are only a few ways you can help your family avoid in-fighting after you are gone. Consult an experienced estate planning lawyer to help you set up an estate plan that conveys your wishes and dispenses your estate in a way that is best for all involved. Unfortunately, not all disputes can be avoided and family members may need professional help. An estate attorney who has mediation experience as well can help before and after you are gone.

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