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Estate disputes following death can be curbed with good planning

Music fans in Las Vegas and throughout the world mourned the untimely death of iconic singer Prince earlier in 2016, but many may not be aware that his estate is now in limbo. The musician reportedly did not have a will in place when he died, making the distribution of his millions of dollars' worth of assets difficult to work out. Unfortunately, poor estate planning is not only a problem for the rich and famous; every year, countless individuals may find themselves in a similar dispute following the death of a loved one, but the solution is relatively simple.

Depending on one's situation, a living trust, a last will and testament, or both should be executed. A power of attorney and an advanced health directive are also relevant documents that can make end-of-life decisions easier to make.

Wills are one of the most common documents used in matters of assets division. A legal will should clearly outline an individual's assets and name heirs as well as the estate executor. Conversely, a living trust is designed to deter fraud by naming a trustee who will manage and distribute the assets. For additional protection, experts say, individuals should consider adding a 'no contest" clause to their will or living trust, which would negate any claims from heirs trying to contest the legality of a will or trust document.

When there is no will in place following a death, surviving family members may have different ideas regarding distribution of property, both tangible and intellectual, resulting in lengthy disputes and substantial court costs. Enlisting the help of a trust and estates lawyer may lead to the timely resolution of inheritance issues.

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