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Family dynamics can impact estate planning

Family dynamics may be one of the most challenging issues to consider when creating an estate plan. Issues such as siblings who don't get along or heirs who have trouble managing money are not uncommon regardless of how much money a family has. However, there are ways that individuals in New York and across the country can address the unique needs that beneficiaries may have. For instance, it may be possible to use a trust to help a child manage his or her inheritance.

The trust could contain language requiring that certain goals or benchmarks be reached before a distribution is made. If an heir has a substance abuse issue, remaining sober could be a condition of obtaining some or all of an inheritance. Creating a trust can also protect a family's money from being given to friends or others who may not use it effectively.

Those who are part of a blended family can use an estate plan to adequately provide for all of their children. If siblings are going to receive different levels of financial assistance from a parent, a letter of intent could be worth including. This will explain why one child got more than another, which could minimize or eliminate the odds of family infighting taking place after a parent passes.

The loss of a loved one is often difficult for surviving family members. However, a quality estate plan could make it easier for family members to focus on the grieving process. An attorney may be able to help a client create a will, trust or other estate plan document. Legal counsel could also review any documents to ensure that they still meet the estate owner's needs.

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