Worries about reaction of family members delays estate planning

Many people in New York avoid thinking about the end of their lives and how that will affect their estates. Although these feelings are understandable, concerns about how their family members will react to their final wishes also contribute to delays in estate planning. A survey of financial advisers conducted by Key Private Bank revealed how often family dynamics complicated end-of-life arrangements for estates.

Out of 130 advisers, 77 percent cited family relationships as the most difficult aspect of estate planning. The technical details of writing wills and setting up trusts did not trouble people nearly as much as the strain that estate decisions might place on family relationships. One trust administration manager explained that people fear that their estate plan choices will create conflict. Decisions that divide assets among children in a fair but not equal manner could cause resentment. After making their intentions known, people worry that behaviors between benefactors and beneficiaries might change.

The majority of financial advisers responding to the survey said that only a few of their clients had honest conversations with their families about their final wishes. The difficulty that some people had with family communication sometimes limited their ability to create estate plans that fully reflected their values.

In addition to coping with family dynamics, a person needs to understand how estate law might influence the distribution of an estate. A consultation with an attorney could inform a person about appropriate strategies for protecting his or her assets and transferring wealth. A lawyer could research a person’s specific concerns, such as supporting a special needs person, preventing creditors from accessing an inheritance or selecting a capable trustee or executor. Legal guidance during estate planning could help someone make important decisions and create documents that thoroughly express his or her final wishes.

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