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Estate Planning: Leave the house to the kids or not?

If you are one of the many American parents planning to leave the family home to your children, you might want to give a little pause. According to one certified financial planner, some siblings have torn themselves apart fighting over the property after the death of the parents. Part of the reason Americans work hard to achieve a home and other assets is so that we have at least some form of legacy to give our children when we die. However, we must also make sure our final gifts are blessings instead of burdens.

A recent article published in The Fiscal Times offers some suggestions about what to do with the home when parents have more than one child. The story suggests that parents ask themselves a few questions when planning their wills such as: Is one or more of the children experiencing financial trouble? Do the children get along with one another? Are they able to cooperate with each other and come to fair decisions together?

The purpose of these considerations is to determine the best and most equitable way to pass down the family's assets. In some cases, it might be a better idea to have parental wills include a stipulation that the home and other real property be sold and the funds distributed evenly to all the children. This could circumvent any disagreements or probate issues that may unexpectedly break out between siblings.

The article also poses a few other considerations to think about in estate planning, but the best takeaway the piece offers is to seek advice before making a final decision. This advice can come in many forms including hiring a financial adviser or speaking with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can also help you finalize your legal documents.

Source: The Fiscal Times, "Should You Leave Your Home to Your Kids?" Sheryl Nance Nash, Jun. 05, 2014

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