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Estate plan concerns

Estate planning can be a sensitive, stressful issue for people and families in Minnesota as well as around the country. Many people are uncomfortable thinking about death or the possibility of a debilitating accident or illness. They are even more uncomfortable discussing these things with family members.

Unfortunately, this discomfort can lead to an absence of estate planning or the creation of a plan that is inadequate. Many experts advise estate planners to schedule a conversation with their children and heirs so that everyone is aware of an estate plan and how it will be executed. Doing this helps to prevent surprises and might reduce family tension.

It is also essential for those who have an estate plan to periodically review and update it. This is particularly true in cases in which there have been changes within a family. Divorce, adoption, remarriage and the birth of new children may require changes in wills, powers of attorney and insurance and retirement benefits.

Estate planners should also be aware that creating a will is simply the first step in developing a comprehensive estate plan. Some assets, such as life insurance policies, pensions and retirement accounts, aren't covered by wills. Ensuring appropriate distribution requires a separate process of designating their beneficiaries. This process may need to be revised over the years if a spouse dies, a marriage ends or someone remarries.

Individuals and couples who are considering estate planning or haven't reviewed and updated their plans in a while may benefit from speaking with an experienced attorney. An estate planning lawyer may review his or her client's circumstances and make recommendations regarding wills, powers of attorney, end-of-life medical directives and trusts.

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