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Will contests disrupt Florida families

The story is horrifying and yet not altogether uncommon in Florida. An individual seeks out professional help to create an estate plan. Given the number of potential heirs and the assets at stake, the individual specifically sets out to prevent a future court battle between their kids. Despite all efforts, however, after the individual passes away, the heirs' disagreement over administration of the estate boils into probate litigation that forever splinters the family unit.

No one wants to be that individual. Nevertheless, even those that take proactive steps to avoid a will contest may not have done all they can to avoid bitter probate battles involving those they left behind.

Fortunately, there are ways to nearly eliminate the potential for future court battles, if the individual commits to doing things the right way. One of the most important things an individual can do is engage in collaborative estate planning, which involves qualified professionals. Having a team of experts is far more preferable than going in alone.

For instance, local Lee estate planning attorneys are experts at drafting wills and trusts that leave little wiggle room. These documents are vital because even the slightest ambiguity may result in a fight down the road. Identifying every possible sticking point is difficult given our inability to see into the future. As a result, these estate planning experts will work hand in hand with financial advisors or even someone knowledgeable about the family dynamics.

By involving others, an individual will be forced to ask questions and confront issues, which may not have been obvious to them. Experienced estate planners have seen all the ways a good intentioned estate plan can go awry, from some kids challenging a will based on allegations of undue influence to others asserting distributions were improperly calculated. With the help of these experts, an individual can prevent their family from breaking up over dividing up his or her assets.

Source: CNBC, "How to avoid estate, will blunders," Deborah Nason, June 28, 2014

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