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Give While You Live to Avoid a Family Feud

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A recent article in the New York Post about brothers battling over a painting from their uncle’s estate serves as a reminder of the importance of designating a destination for your personal property, either through a will or by gifting while you are still alive.

The brotherly brouhaha came about after noted Manhattan interior designer, David Barrett, died and left his two nephews – Richard and Alan Barrett — “equal shares” in his $5.6 million estate. The estate included a $45,000 piece of art that the brothers flipped a coin over to determine who would take home the painting.

Richard lost the coin flip – and then flipped out, filing a lawsuit to get ownership of the painting, which held up payment to the two estate executors and his brother.

The lesson here is obvious: simply splitting an estate without detailed bequests can, and often does, lead to estate litigation.

The better solution is also a simple one: take a complete inventory of your personal property, and then designate a recipient for each asset.

Make these designations via a valid will, or even give them away while you are still living so there is no question as to who you intend to inherit your prized possessions.

Alternatively, consider taking pictures of each item of personal property and writing the name of designees to receive each item on the back of the image. Reference the images in your will.

And remember, if you are a parent, your children may be what you value most. You can protect them by putting in place a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan® to provide for their long-term and short-term care and by establishing a trust to fund their care if you are no longer available to provide for them. While you don’t “own” your children, of course, you do owe them the duty of ensuring their care is handled well if anything happens to you.

If you would like more information about a Kids Protection Plan, providing for your prized personal possessions or creating or updating your estate plan, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call today and mention this article.