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Estates should plan for life's positives and negatives

Preparing one's personal estate can be a sobering experience as the preparer contemplates the person's own mortality. It can, however, also been seen as an opportunity to create a legacy in those who stand to inherit the person's wealth. Many New Jersey residents who prepare estate plans desire to give their children and other descendants shares of the wealth they accumulated over the course of their lives.

Estate planners may foresee their estates being used to finance higher education, buy homes and for other socially acceptable investments for the future. While these good outcomes are always possible, estate planners should also consider that their heirs may use their inheritance wealth for unwise or even illegal purposes. If someone preparing an estate suspects that an intended beneficiary may have a substance abuse problem or other issue that could be financed by an inheritance, the estate planner may wish to explore options -- like a trust -- as a way to provide for the intended recipient while still maintaining some control over the inheritance's value.

Estate planners may also want to consider providing contingencies in their estates in the event their intended beneficiaries undergo divorces, remarriages or other changes to their familial structures. When estates provide for a decedent's children and those children's spouses, a divorce can throw into question the estate planner's intentions toward who should receive an inheritance.

As with all other legal matters, individuals with specific estate planning questions should speak to their attorneys about their particular inquiries. Many other situations can arise that can throw wrenches into an estate plan; this post only touches on a few of the issues those planning their estates can confront. A good estate plan is one that anticipates both the positive and negative events that can arise when beneficiaries receive wealth through inheritance.

Source:, "3 important tips to consider when adult children are estate beneficiaries: Your Legal Corner," Victoria Dalton, Jan. 25, 2015

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