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Including others in a will or estate plan, in addition to family

We will all experience the death of a loved one at some point in our lifetimes. It can be a very sad time, and a time to remember the person's legacy. This might include inheriting assets from that loved one. Many times family members leave assets to family members through their estate plan and in many cases, parents leave things evenly to their children. However, leaving assets only to family and dividing everything equally isn't always what a person wishes to do with their assets upon their death.

Sometimes certain possessions have a particular sentiment to one person and another person might not care to have a different possession. The author of a recent essay in a prominent newspaper wrote about her decision to detail, down to a favorite broach and crystal heirloom lamps, what friends and family would get from her upon her death. Although she doesn't plan on passing away anytime soon, the death of her mother made her think about her estate.

One of the biggest lessons she learned is that not everyone will agree with what she decides, but ultimately the decision is up to her. She also used caution when considering not giving someone anything at all. Because relationships change, along with assets and lifestyles, she made a pact to herself that she would review her will every five years, or close to that.

Whatever people decide to do regarding passing on their assets to family and friends, the decision is very personal. An experienced estate planning attorney can help guide a person in their decision and make sure the person's wishes are honored.

Source: The New York Times, "In Writing Her Will, It's the Little Things That Matter," Laura M. Holson, Nov. 13, 2012

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