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Bringing heirs into the loop during estate planning

When California residents are planning for the disposition of their estates, one of the most important factors in protecting the estate and its continuity can be involving heirs in the process. Especially in the case of high-value estates with significant assets, family and shared knowledge and communication can be particularly essential.

It has been estimated that up to 70 percent of estates lose assets following the transfer and that family harmony and togetherness is also negatively impacted. While some of these cases result from poor planning, in many cases, carefully planned estates can also suffer serious negative effects. One of the major factors can be a lack of preparation and knowledge on the part of the heirs inheriting the estate.

Many parents are reluctant to discuss these details with future heirs even as they are preparing their wills. They are concerned about the values that these financial discussions may bring to the forefront as well as the emotional impact of discussions of death. However, heirs who are unfamiliar with the estate are also much more likely to make poor decisions that could put their own future and that of the estate's assets at risk. Parents may want to share some aspects of their estate plan in advance or introduce heirs to their advisers so that they have more knowledge about where to go in the future.

An estate planning lawyer can help to guide families going through the process to develop mechanisms for information sharing. A lawyer could develop a clear system that is easier for heirs to understand, as well as working together with the families and advocating open communication about finances, assets and other key issues.

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