McCoy Fatula, APCMcCoy
Located in Roseville, CA

Clarity in estate planning crucial to avoiding problems

There's an old party game called "telephone," where one person whispers a phrase to another, then that person to the next, and so on, until the last person in line is reached. After the final participant announces what was said to him or her, uproarious laughter often ensues when the phrase so drastically differs from what the first person actually said. While such antics make for lots of California party fun, misinterpreting what's been said can be disastrous in other situations, such as the estate planning process.

Lack of clarity is often cited as a common cause of contention between family members who fight over an estate owner's instructions. A son might think a father intended one thing while his brother or sister firmly believes another. In such situations, it often helps to have an experienced attorney present who can clarify all terms contained within a particular document.

In fact, many family fights could likely have been prevented in the past if parents would have consulted with estate planning attorneys before executing their plans. An attorney's insight and experience can prove quite beneficial toward drafting an explicit plan that will be easily understood when the time comes to administer the estate. Otherwise, siblings and other family members may begin to squabble about various issues concerning property or items of sentimental value.

The California estate planning process can be simple or extremely complicated to navigate, depending on individual circumstances. By acting alongside experienced guidance, an estate owner can provide clear instructions for loved ones and help them avoid lengthy probate processes and disagreements among family members. A logical first step to take is to ask an attorney to review one's prospective plan.

Source:, "Family fights during estate planning common, but avoidable", Becky Raspe, March 13, 2017

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