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Estate planning can help avoid family conflict

Many Texas families hesitate to discuss what will happen to their property, bank accounts, and other assets after they pass away. Unfortunately, without having the conversation and creating a comprehensive estate plan, conflict can easily arise among friends and family.

There are many important things to consider when creating an estate plan, but many experts agree that the most important thing to do is make sure everything is accounted for and to appoint a trusted friend, family member, or third party to make sure that the plan is followed and your wishes are respected.

There are many different elements to a complete estate plan, and they may change as you get older. For people with children still living at home, it's important to provide not only for the financial future of the children, but also to name a relative or friend that will care for them in your absence. It can also be helpful to consider creating a trust, which could have specific instructions for how money is spent in the interest of the children.

Health care directives are also an important part of an estate plan that many people overlook, but often still have strong feelings about. Make sure that you have a legally effective document instructing doctors and loved ones with how they should handle different medical crises.

A lot of people think that because they don't have a high net worth or don't have a lot of assets, that they don't need to make an estate plan, but proper estate planning can benefit families at all income levels.

Source: ABC 15, "Why estate planning is critical for your family," Sept. 11, 2012.

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