How To Be Fair When Disbursing Your Assets

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With blended families taking so many different shapes today, it’s important to plan ahead for how you want your personal property disbursed.
We found a story that offers tips on how to resolve family squabbles over inheritance before they happen.

The article follows Seena Sharp, whose aging mother asked her three daughters to pick out something she owned that had sentimental value to them. “We made a list of what each daughter would get and signed it,” said Sharp.

“There was one item that had much more value than the others, so the daughter who received it had it appraised, and gave the other two 33 percent of the appraisal.” Because of their discussion, when Seena’s mother passed away, there was no conflict among the daughters.

Here are a few suggestions for equally disbursing possessions to your heirs.

Communicate Your Intentions
Talk to your family about your possessions. Find out what has meaning to them. If there are keepsakes a family member wants, you can choose to gift it to them before you pass away or write a memorandum into your Will. The most important thing is to let your family participate in your Estate Plan so they know your intentions.

Keep Document Updated
With blended families and 2nd or 3rd marriages being more common today, it’s easy to forget who is listed as beneficiaries on your financial accounts and life insurance policies. Keep your paperwork up-to-date and make sure your beneficiaries are current on all your accounts.

Don’t forget the title on your home.
“I once worked with clients who were in their 60s,” says Melody Judge, founder of Life Income Management. “They were in a second marriage and each of their first spouses had died. When I asked about beneficiaries, the husband not only had not changed his life insurance beneficiary to reflect his new wife, the primary home was still in the deceased wife’s name.”

Plan While You’re Healthy
Create an Estate Plan while you are of sound mind. If you wait for an illness to occur before you write a Will, Trust, Power of Attorney or Advance Directive, you may not make the best decisions and the legality of your documents could (in a worst-case scenario) be challenged.

Consult An Estate Planning Attorney
Don’t go it alone. Enlist the services of an Estate Planning attorney. There are nuances to making a plan that you may not be aware of like joint ownership. “It’s not uncommon for a parent to add a child to a bank account to help with the finances,” says attorney Ramsey Bahrawy. “This creates a presumption of a gift, meaning the account belongs to the joint owner upon death. Was that actually the intent? Convenience accounts are the source of many disputes.”

Be Fair
Many times issues arise over equality. “One child who has taken care of his parent might deserve to receive a bigger share of inheritance and that might be fair,” explains accountant Peter Cordua. Try to be open about your intentions if you plan on giving an heir more than an equal share of your possessions.

Read the story here.

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