Your family is what means the most to you, so estate planning needs to be an all-hands conversation. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page with your intentions for everything from your care to how you want to share your legacy, will provide you and your family with peace of mind when it most matters. Today’s decisive determinations will help avoid tomorrow’s incorrect assumptions and the difficulties they can cause.
Here are some suggestions for making your estate planning conversations as clear and productive as possible.
Have an open, honest, and appropriate conversation.
“Conversation” is the operative word. Keep the setting as emotionally neutral as possible (avoid holiday gatherings, etc.), encourage everyone to participate, and ensure that each person feels empowered and comfortable to voice their feelings and concerns.
Approach your care with your and your family’s interests in mind.
Discussions around your care can be sensitive to all concerned. While you want to be considerate of your family members’ points of view, you also need to be firm, when needed, on things in which you strongly believe about that care.
Consider including a mediator for financial discussions.
Emotions can also run high when inheritance enters the conversation. Consider bringing your financial advisor, attorney, or other mediator into the discussion if you think that you and your family could benefit from having an impartial facilitator present.
Cover the essentials and the expectations.
The estate planning conversation will cover a considerable amount of ground, but it should include a number of core components:
- Who will be your executor.
- Where your important financial documents are stored.
- How much your beneficiaries may inherit so they can work with their financial advisors.
- What your charitable and trust intentions may be.
Honesty today will ensure peace of mind tomorrow.
Having the tough conversations now will make things easier on you and your family in the future. You will all gain the peace of mind of having no second-guessing your care or inheritance intentions—perhaps the greatest comfort you will ever give them. Or yourself.