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There are many reasons why we avoid estate planning. It can be an uncomfortable topic for many families and raises sensitive issues, fears and even superstitions.

Not having a will, however, can trigger higher costs, settlement delays and even fights among family members as to who gets what. For families with small children, it is essential to have an updated estate plan that chooses a guardian, as well as instructions on how and when to pass their inheritance along.

Lynne Butler is a senior will and estate lawyer at Scotiabank and an accomplished estate planning and elder law professional. She has written three books about estate planning, including the newly released Estate Planning Through Family Meetings (without breaking up the family). You can read an excerpt from her book here. Also, don't miss Ms. Butler's tips on holding a family estate-planning meeting.

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