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Estate planning mistakes can affect your last wishes

Families don't always agree. As personalities interact, it can be really hard to reach common ground on issues such as what mother meant to do or dad's plan for the family heirlooms. People in Nevada may be the best planners in the world. But, when it comes to wills and other estate planning, the emotional aspect of the task might influence choices that can affect the future. Careful review of each family's needs will help assure your wishes will be followed by those you love.

A very important tip to keep in mind is to have the original will in a secure place, and make sure family members know where that is. While it is possible to probate a copy, it is usually difficult. The inability to locate the original can create unnecessary delay and expense.

If the wording is not clear in the will, a court would have to intervene and interpret what you were trying to say or do. Experts caution that do-it-yourself templates are more susceptible to this problem. Confusion or disagreement among heirs adds to the emotional upheaval they are already experiencing. For example, actually naming family members can eliminate any ambiguity that general terms might create. It also helps to ensure no one is inadvertently omitted or included when he or she shouldn't receive part of the inheritance.

Major changes in one's life often require that a will be updated. Marriages, divorces, death of a beneficiary and other such events should prompt a will review. It's very important to be sure all copies and the original version are destroyed. Probate issues are likely if family members have different versions of your intentions when the time comes.

Once you determine how you want your probate assets to be distributed, decide on a guardian for minor children, if applicable, and choose an executor. A carefully written will can give you peace of mind that what you wish will be what happens. Knowledgeable review of personal choices and properly worded direction will ensure probate proceeds as smoothly as possible.

Source: Forbes, "Wills Gone Wrong: Mistakes That Can Thwart Your Last Wishes" Sonya Stinson, Feb. 20, 2014

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