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Heirs may prefer heirlooms to money

Seniors in Houston and around the country who are busy with their estate planning strategy may want to rethink the process. According to a poll taken by Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America, 86 percent of baby boomers want to be left with a family legacy of some kind while just 9 percent find financial inheritance most important. Items like family heirlooms, stories and other personal property should be considered when planning an estate.

One key to a smoother distribution is to begin a dialogue prior to creating a valid will. Find out which family member might like to have grandma's favorite teacup. A memorandum, which gets referenced in the will, allows someone to detail who gets what items, and attaching photos helps ensure which diamond ring gets passed down. If the division of items turns into a family dispute, sending those things to auction is one option that allows for family members to bid on wanted items. The family can put the money back to the estate where they can divide the amount equally.

One suggestion to learn more about family history before someone passes is to label old family photos with names of the relatives. Family values and life stories can also be recorded in an ethical will, which may be a non-legally binding one-page document.

Doing some strategizing ahead of time and discussing the intentions of the will or trust with the recipients might avoid family discord. It may be helpful to consult with an attorney that works in estate planning for advice about which documents to have and what specifics to include.

Source: Marketwatch, "Your heirs want this even more than your money", Andrea Coombes, December 16, 2013

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