If much of your practice involves probate litigation, you will inevitably (and almost daily) find yourself in the following conflict: you, as lawyer, want to focus on the dollars and cents of the case, your client, on the other hand, wants to relive family grievances that may have been simmering for decades – issues that unfortunately are almost impossible to resolve in the context of civil litigation. According to these findings in the recently published Allianz American Legacies Study, this type of cross-communication is probably inevitable. The California Estates and Business Law Blog provided the following comments on the study:

The Allianz American Legacies Study, sponsored by the Allianz Life Insurance Co., . . . found that seniors and baby boomers ranked money last in their list of important estate issues. Ahead of it were sharing values and life lessons, understanding final instructions and wishes to be fulfilled, and distributing personal possessions that have emotional value.

Still, just one-third of the more than 2,500 people surveyed said they had discussed such a wide range of issues.

Ken Dychtwald, president and chief executive of Age Wave, a San Francisco-based consulting group that helped design the survey, said families may be approaching estate planning incorrectly.

“We found that when you ask people to talk about inheritance, everyone clams up,” Dychtwald said. “Inheritance is about money, and it’s seen as greedy. But ask them to talk about legacy … it’s as if we hit some kind of magic button, and people open up about leaving behind family values and traditions – and money was just a piece of that.”