It seems like families need to spend more time discussing estate plans and their finances, especially if they are blended families, to prevent major disruptions.
For the second consecutive year, family conflict was named as the biggest threat to estate planning by estate planning and elder law attorneys and other professionals attending this year’s annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning.
The survey, conducted by TD Wealth, found that nearly half (46%) of respondents said that family conflict was the biggest threat to estate planning in 2019, followed by market volatility (24%) and tax reform (14%).
Insurance News Net’s recent article, “Family Conflict Reigns As Greatest Threat To Estate Planning, Survey Finds,” reported that the survey also looked at the various causes of family conflict, when engaging in estate planning. They said that the designation of beneficiaries (30%) was the most common cause of conflict. Other leading factors included not communicating the plan with family members (25%) and working with blended families (21%).
Family dynamics have always played a crucial part in estate planning. With an increase in blended families, many experts think that these conversations will become even more frequent and challenging. Estate planning comes with the responsibility of motivating families to communicate through difficult times. This requires regular conversations and total transparency. To minimize risk, families should include everyone at the table to participate in an open and honest conversation about their shared goals and objectives.
Market volatility was also a big concern of the respondents for 2019. Almost 25% said that identifying volatile markets was the biggest threat to estate planning this year, up from 12% in 2018.
Market fluctuations are worth watching and can cause worry for potential gift givers. It’s best to maintain a long-term view when investing, and know that short-term market movements are no match for a robust estate plan and a well-balanced portfolio.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act continues to have a large-scale effect on estate planning. After the increase in the federal gift and estate tax exemption, there are some new strategies to allow people to take advantage of the exemption. About one third of respondents (31%) propose that their clients consider creating trusts to protect assets. About 26% say their clients plan to minimize future capital gains tax consequences and 21% agree to gift now, while the exemption is high.
Experts are stressing the importance of creating trusts for the benefit of family, so assets can be protected from future claims.
The survey also asked about charitable giving. There continue to be concerns among non-profits that another result of the new tax law would be a negative impact on charitable giving. However, twenty one percent of those surveyed at Heckerling expect that their clients will give more than they did in 2018, and forty percent believe that their clients will make the same charitable donations in 2019, as they did last year.
Reference: Insurance News Net (March 13, 2019) “Family Conflict Reigns As Greatest Threat To Estate Planning, Survey Finds”