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The importance of communication in estate planning

Some Nevada residents may find it difficult to talk to loved ones about estate planning and finances. It may help to think instead of this as a conversation about values. With partners, this is a conversation that can happen throughout the relationship, and with children, an age-appropriate conversation can start when they are young.

Values focus on what is important to the family. This may include attitudes toward spending and saving and answering questions such as whether assets will be divided equally between beneficiaries or based on something else. Whatever decision people make, they should be sure to discuss the rationale behind it with their heirs to avoid feelings of bitterness. People might also want to consider who they would choose to make health care choices for them in the event of incapacity and what they envision for end-of-life care.

It is important to communicate clearly with family about these plans and also to carry them out. After one man died, his grandchildren found his notes for a will along with the card for a lawyer he intended to contact. However, since he never created the will, they had a long, costly battle in the court system.

One advantage of working with an attorney to create an estate plan is that the attorney might be able to assist a person in making decisions such as whether a last will and testament or a trust is more appropriate for the person's situation. For example, a person might think that a trust is just so that wealthy parents can preserve that wealth for their children. However, trusts have other uses such as taking care of a special needs relative. Open communication with family means people can discuss their family's needs with an attorney and how those needs might be met with an estate plan.

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