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Keeping the probate process family friendly

One of the goals of estate planning for many Massachusetts residents is to eliminate -- or at least minimize -- any potential arguments among family members. Making the probate process family friendly is possible, but it takes some work up front. Once an estate plan is made, it will need to be reviewed and updated as needed to ensure that it still meets this and other goals.

Many Massachusetts residents are familiar with the old adage that change is the only constant in life. This means that an estate plan created five to 10 years ago could need some changes -- especially if there have been any major life events within that time, such as marriages, births or divorces, among other things. In addition, property could be bought or sold, which means that current documents could be disposing of property that no longer owned while not accounting for new property.

In order to avoid confrontations among family members after death, creating and updating a plan is often insufficient. It might make a good plot device for movies and television to see families sitting in an attorney's office waiting to hear whether they will inherit anything from a loved one. However, in real life, it is often better to communicate intentions clearly prior to death.

Proper estate planning can make the probate process easier on the executor of the estate and family members. It can give everyone peace of mind to know that there is a plan and what it contains. This could mean that surviving family members will be able to move forward with their relationships intact.

Source: thonline.com, "Keeping the peace between adult children in estate planning", Nathaniel Sillin, March 22, 2016

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