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Estate planning can avoid an inheritance fight

You may find yourself ready to begin an estate plan. Estate planning is truly a positive process. Not only do you get to pass along your accumulated wealth, and leave your mark on the world, but by having a plan it will ease the stress on friends and relatives. They will be able to follow your written preferences and will have few questions about what you really wanted.

Unfortunately, an unclear estate plan can leave your heirs with questions. In some cases, an individual may be able to challenge the will if it is not explicitly clear. Of course, if there is no will, trust or plan, the distribution of the estate will depend on New Jersey intestate laws. Luckily, below are a few tips that you may find useful in your quest to create a winning plan.

Create and maintain a legally valid will

If this one seems obvious, well, it's because it is. When you have a will, you have written down your clear intentions about what property goes to whom. A will that follows state law is less likely to face challenges in court. Since the will gives your final wishes, relatives are less likely to fight about its implementation.

Be clear about who's in and who's out

If you wish to specifically leave someone out of your will, you may want to make that very clear. A person who believes they have a claim to part of the estate, and that you accidentally left him or her out, can challenge the will in court. In some cases, a person you did not want to have any of your assets will win the right to claim them, that is, unless you make it clear in your will. You can make a list of individuals you wish to specifically exclude, thus eliminating any argument that you accidentally them out of your will.

If you have a surprise, let someone know

The reading of a will is not the best time for surprises. If you have a secret that you prefer gets revealed to the family after death, it is better to inform at least one or two close family members. The executor of the will would be a fine choice to know about any long-lost children, secret lovers or former spouses. If secrecy is extremely important to you, letting your lawyer know will be enough, but of course, that won't stop the family from fighting over any juicy details in your last will and testament.

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