Burbank, Calif., planner Cameron Thornton worked with one of his first clients for 15 years and devoted much of that time to estate planning. An entrepreneur with a 40-year-old business, the client prepared meticulously to pass his assets on to his wife and children. But when he died, the worst happened.

"I watched it all just implode," Thornton recalls. Each of his children lawyered up and went to war with one another. The years of work on estate planning were largely for naught. The one key element that Thornton thinks he and his client missed - and many planners still miss - was involving the family in a pre-inheritance process.

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