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Reducing contention among surviving family members

A great deal of estate planning effort goes into determining which loved ones should inherit which assets and how those assets should be packaged in order to avoid excess taxation. In many cases, people focus exclusively on the big ticket items and forget to make a plan for their  personal belongings. Unfortunately, this can leave surviving Tennessee family members at each other's throats, an outcome that no one desires.

The best way to reduce the risk of familial tension following the loss of a loved one is to create a comprehensive estate plan that will guide the distribution of all assets, including items that seem to hold little value. By creating a structure through which these belongings will be passed on, individuals can help ease the tensions that often rise after a loss. One way to accomplish this goal is to draft a document that specifically pertains to items of personal property.

It is a good idea to discuss the matter with loved ones, taking the time to ask them what they would like to have when the time comes. In this way, family members can take the time to think about which items hold the most sentimental value and feel secure in the knowledge that their relative is planning to pass down certain items to them. In some cases, there will be few disputes between family members, and a list can be compiled. If there are items that more than one person wants, it may be possible to work out an agreement in which items are prioritized.

Once the final list has been created, it can be helpful to give all loved ones a copy of the document. This will mean that no one is surprised when the time comes to distribute items of personal property, which could reduce the risk of future conflict. A copy should also be stored in the same place as the rest of the family's estate planning documents and given to the party who will act as the executor of the will.

Advance planning is the central focus of creating an estate plan. While passing down items of relatively little value may not sit at the top of a Tennessee resident's priority list, it is an issue that deserves consideration. Reducing the risk of conflict between family members is one of the most valuable gifts that a loved one can leave behind.

Source: The Huffington Post, "3 Simple Tips For Planning Your Estate", Erris Langer Klapper, Feb. 11, 2016

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