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Choosing a trustee for a troubled heir can help

Disinheriting a family member is a difficult decision. Here in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, some residents may feel conflicted about whether or not to transfer properties to loved ones after death. Leaving a legacy is important, in part, because it gives the recipient something to remind him or her about the testator. Nevertheless, it can cause profound heartache to the surviving family member who did not receive an inheritance.

People have every right to exclude anyone from their estate plan, except a spouse who co-owns the estate. However, an heir who cannot be depended upon to manage the proceeds of the estate may be disinherited completely. A problem child, for instance, can be excluded as an heir to protect the estate and, in some way, to protect a child from making bad choices.

Establishing a trust can help the estate owner manage the inheritance of a problem child. The trustee can limit the amount of money an heir can receive. The trustee also has the legal authority to assist a troubled loved one, helping to make the right choice.

In addition, setting up a trust can ensure competent management of the assets a person leaves behind. A trust is not subject to inheritance tax and probate, thus, preserving the value of the property and protecting it from probate.

Nonetheless, being a trustee has pitfalls too. An heir may consider a trustee incompetent, and file a lawsuit to question the trustee's fiduciary abilities. Estate management can be difficult because it requires someone with sound judgment. A legal professional can answer any questions regarding estate planning and trusts.

Source: The Times, "ESTATE PLANNING: When a Loved One's Faults Need To Be Recognized," Christopher W. Yugo, Nov. 26, 2013

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