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Lack of shared information can hinder effective estate planning

Estate planning is an important part of life for Maryland residents. This is true regardless of their financial situation, but it is especially true for the wealthy. Still, everyone can take a lesson from the issues that affect wealthy estate planning and apply it to their own circumstances.

One concern for the wealthy is that they have a problem with relating to loved ones how the estate will be passed along after their death. This information is critical for those who have yet to move forward with estate planning or are not sharing key information with family members.

According to a study from Merrill Lynch, 64 percent of those with significant wealth stated they did not discuss their assets with family members. And, 48 percent said they intended to talk about it so family members will have an understanding as to how the assets will be distributed. Yet, 10 percent said they view wealth as a personal issue and will not discuss it. In the study, there were 656 participants from across the nation. They had a minimum of $3 million is assets. The lack of transparency frequently causes disputes among family members.

Researchers noticed that families who have wealth that spans generations are commonly unaware of effective methods to navigate the situation and, as a result, make poor decisions. Other revelations from the survey showed that one-third informed family members of lifetime gifts they committed to or already made. And, 72 percent failed to reveal donations made through philanthropy. Steps that people can take when crafting their estate plan to ensure retaining wealth include giving assistance to people who are trying to preserve their wealth, divide it, help it grow or to give guidance to those who are completely unsure of what they want to do.

Since estate planning is so complicated and requires advice and strategies tailored to the individual's needs and desires, help is a critical aspect of an effective document. When formulating the estate plan, knowing what assets there are and how best to distribute them is key.

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