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Communication: Key Foundation for Estate Administration Success

As with most things in life, communication is said to be the key to good estate administration in New York and elsewhere. That starts with the individual who is planning how his or her estate will be distributed. Studies show that less than one third of all individuals have discussed their estate plan with their children. Most professionals involved in the estate administration process recommend that family members be included in the planning.

Some people are concerned that certain family relationships will hinder the process. In that event, professionals still suggest that loved ones be made aware of the estate plan once it is in place. One important reason is that persons appointed to act as a trustee, executor or other fiduciary may not want to serve in the capacity indicated. It is far better to know that before finalizing plans. The general consensus is that it is best to make everyone, including beneficiaries, aware of their role and any expectations concerning their involvement in the estate administration process.

Lingering family disputes are said to best be confronted during estate planning to avoid a long festering disagreement from exploding into unnecessary and expensive estate litigation. It is far better to work to diffuse arguments than to allow them to continue to grow to a point of no return. Many believe that time taken to explain to loved ones why certain provisions were made may reduce conflict later. In cases where no conflicts over inheritance issues arose, 63 percent said they knew of the estate plan beforehand, and over 80 percent believed they were treated fairly.

It is also felt that these family issues should be disclosed to the estate planning professional charged with ensuring the individual's intentions are honored and effectuated. A New York attorney devoted to helping individuals and families create meaningful estate plans free from conflict may help devise a plan to accomplish the goals. It may well be that the best course of action is to include the attorney in family discussions to help communicate what is intended and how it will be accomplished.

Source: The Yuma Sun, " Disclosure avoids disputes," Larry Deason, Oct. 3, 2011