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Estate planning: Family legacies often matter greatly

Sound estate planning will ensure that a client's expressed wishes and best interests are fully promoted through execution of well-considered and strongly drafted legal documents and agreements.

What ultimately defines an estate plan in any given case must necessarily be determined by the singular facts that are presented each time an individual or family sits down to talk with a proven planning attorney in Texas or elsewhere.

Families are all unique, and boilerplate arrangements seldom work in the real world. At a minimum, an effective estate plan will focus on the distribution of assets, legal tax avoidance and health care considerations. It might also take account of elder law concerns, the special needs of family members, guardianships and a host of other concerns.

Increasingly, family legacy is a topic that is being discussed with estate planning attorneys, and for good reason. Family history and values are understandably of critical importance to many people making an estate plan, with individuals often passing along far more than real and personal property.

Many people want their family members and heirs to appreciate their shared sense of history and destiny across generations. They seek to impart knowledge, pass along important stories and account for important artifacts and heirlooms.

A recent article discussing so-called “legacy planning” quotes the celebrated actor Robert DeNiro, who once noted that his biggest regret in planning was that, “I didn’t get as much of the family history as I could have for the kids.”

In this technological age, increasingly more families are focused on incorporating legacy material -- through left-behind videos, ethical wills that server as enduring testaments of family values, and the digital preservation of important family documents, letters and pictures -- into their overall estate planning.

This makes perfect sense and is something that an experienced estate planning attorney well understands and often anticipates. A client interested in family legacy should not hesitate to bring up that subject in any consultation with a proven estate planning lawyer.

Source: WealthManagement.com, "Legacy planning in the digital age," Victoria Collins and Jane Shafron, April 21, 2014

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