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Family conflicts threaten estate plans more than taxes do

Oftentimes, when you hear about estate planning being discussed in the media, you hear how individuals are seeking to reduce the tax obligations that their estate and beneficiaries are left paying. A recent TD Wealth study suggests that taxes shouldn't be your biggest concern though, but instead the prospect of relatives contesting your will should be.

Just over 100 estate planners were polled as part of TD Wealth survey conducted earlier in the year. Nearly 45 percent reported that they'd seen where family disputes had impacted the settling of estates.

Most reported estate plans often are contested when spouses were mismatched in terms of age, there were various children from different relationships or more than one ex-husbands or wives.

Even then, most estate planners reported that contested wills most often occurred because no estate plan was ever made in the first place.

When this happens in New York, a spouse qualifies to receive the first $50,000 that's available, then access to half of whatever else exists. The remainder of the estate ends up being split up equitably between the testator's children.

In instances in which a family business is primarily run by one child, splitting up assets between a widow or widower and siblings may not be ideal. They may not be equipped with the know how to keep the company afloat. Having a will in place in a situation like this could ensure that only one child maintained operation oversight over the business.

Another reason estate battles get started is because a testator doesn't discuss their plans before they pass on. Their intentions may be questioned leading a court battle over the contested will. By discussing your plans with your heirs while you're still able to do so, it leaves a lot less to chance.

Wills often are contested because testators don't update their estate plans to reflect changes in their life circumstances such as a divorce or a beneficiary's death. By updating them, you ensure that your estate plan will reflect your interests as accurately as possible.

Estate planning needs vary depending on the individual. What someone who is young and married may need to do may be different from someone older or divorced. Because of this, it's important to work with a Mahopac estate planning attorney who is sure to provide you with personal attention in a personal matter.

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