According to the book, Preparing Heirs: Five Steps to a Successful Transition of Family Wealth and Values, “60 percent of transition failures were caused by a breakdown of communication and trust within the family unit.” With the aging demographic of baby boomers, the high cost of living in Hawai‘i and the increase in multigenerational homes, the potential influx in trust litigation is foreseeable. Where it is appropriate, I believe that encouraging clients to partake in difficult and potentially messy family discussions about their legacy and explaining “the why” behind their intentions is an integral part of preventing unwanted litigation. It may protect the overall health of the family. When willing clients feel the need for assistance in engaging in family discussions, a mediator may be effective in resolving any family disputes.

I also recommend that clients further solidify their intentions by writing them down as the foundation of their estate plan. Those creating a trust should prepare written guidance as to its underlying intentions. Having a well-defined estate plan will help give you and your family more peace of mind and promote harmony. But please make sure that when you are working with your estate planning attorney that your intentions are clearly defined. It can make all the difference.

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