Estate Planning: Who Gets the Stuff?

Even when there's a will, the heirs may squabble over the estate. A few simple steps ahead of time can head off conflict

The best estate-planning advice Harry Leiser ever got came from his rabbi. "He had seen too many families fight over estates after the death of the parents," says Leiser, 56, a New London, Conn., commercial--real estate owner. "He suggested two things: treat each child equally, and don't rule from the grave."

Leiser, the father of two grown sons--one a law student, the other a teacher--took the advice to heart. "Family harmony was my motivation," he says, "and I divided my primary assets equally between my sons--with no strings attached--even though one has much greater earning potential than the other." Moreover, Leiser...

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