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3 common, lesser-known estate planning pitfalls

Often, the same estate planning issues are discussed time after time: not having a will, taxes, executor issues, etc. But, even with a will in place and all assets clearly identified, there are some common challenges that may arise. These challenges may be less talked about, but they are important to consider. Here are three areas where people often fall short in their estate planning:

  1. Family conflicts: Even if an estate plan seems straightforward and logical to the testator, failing to communicate wishes to family can lead to serious conflict and even litigation down the line. Consider how each aspect of a will might be interpreted by each family member, and be sure to put information in the will that will explain or ease these tensions – or, better yet, have the conversation ahead of time.
  2. Gifting without planning: Many people want to provide loved ones with financial support or gifts while they are still living. However, it is important to consider how these things might impact an estate plan. What is the most tax-efficient way to pass down wealth? Does distribution need to be rejigged if one child gets their inheritance early? Thinking these things through can make a huge difference, both in tax bills and in family harmony.
  3. Business succession: Simply passing a business down to one or more beneficiaries may be a sub-par way of properly ensuring succession. Will the successor own it only, or will he or she be expected to run it too? What money is set aside to fund the business? If the business is sold, does the inheritor keep all the proceeds? This requires thorough planning, more so than just a beneficiary designation.

It can be very difficult for someone inexperienced with estate planning itself to think of all these possible issues and angles. For this reason, it is highly recommended that people work with a Georgia estate planning lawyer to work through all planning documents and considerations. Communication with family, discussions with financial or tax experts, and business succession planning can all be important parts of the process, in addition to the important task of drafting the will itself.

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