If your estate plan only saves your family from a hefty tax bill, then — surprise — it’s still not doing enough.
That’s because while planning techniques may do an adequate job of covering possible tax problems, they likely do nothing to address family dynamics that will long outlive you and your savings, said Marve Ann Alaimo, a partner at Porter Wright in Naples, Florida.
Alaimo led a panel titled “Mom Liked You Best: Common Reasons Why Estate Plans Fail” at the American Institute of CPAs’ Engage conference in Las Vegas.
“Even those families that look like they’re perfect — perfection doesn’t exist,” Alaimo said. “Sometimes there are things we don’t express to each other. Sometimes among siblings, those resentments stay hidden until the parents pass.”
In one case, a $1 million estate was whittled down to $400,000 over 10 years thanks to litigation between family members.
Here are some ways your estate plan can drive a wedge between your family members, and how you can head off trouble.