The Washington Estate Planning Blog

Law Offices of David Ravi Sitlani: Helping couples, families, and individuals understand the ins and outs of estate planning in Washington State.

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Archive for December, 2009

Familial Communication in Estate Planning.

Posted by sitlanilaw on December 6, 2009

When I discuss Estate Planning with clients and others I make an effort to emphasize communication to family members on a wide variety of issues.  For example, most parents name Guardians in their Will so that their children will be taken care of in the event the parents are unable to do so.  In this situation, I advise clients to make sure they discuss the responsibility of being named Guardian with the individual they name.

I also emphasize communication when clients name an individual to make decisions on their behalf in the event of their incapacity in a Power-Of-Attorney.  In this situation married individuals typically name their spouse to make decisions on their behalf and name their spouse Attorney-In-Fact…but what about successor Attorneys-In-Fact?  It is also important to communicate to that individual their role and responsibility despite the hope that they will (ideally) not serve.

Lastly when making decisions as to how your estate is distributed it may be important to discuss your choice with the individuals impacted.

There was recently a case decided in Illinois in which a Grandfather decided to disinherit his grandchildren if they married outside of the Grandfather’s religion.  Clearly in this case the Grandfather felt strongly about his religious history and culture and tied the continuation of that religion to his estate disinheriting the grandchildren who married outside of it.  As this issue was litigated, some of his grandchildren clearly did not think this was fair…but what if he had made an effort to communicate his close ties to his religion with his family prior to his death?  Is it possible that by communicating his desire that his family remain connected to his religion then he could have not disinherited his grandchildren?

Of course, it is hard to answer these types of questions – what is important to remember is that communication can often work to forestall conflict not only in the area of Estate Planning…but in life as well!

For more information on the Illinois case described above see:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/24/jews-only-inheritance-pla_n_298962.html.

http://www.state.il.us/court/Opinions/SupremeCourt/2009/September/106982.pdf.

The above information is not intended to provide the reader with any legal advice.  Please contact an attorney licensed to practice in your state with any legal questions. Using this blog does not create an attorney client relationship between you and The Law Offices of David Ravi Sitlani.


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