How to Initiate Family Communication Regarding Estate Planning

Have you ever wanted to draft an estate plan, but couldn’t muster up the courage to discuss it with family? This is a common occurrence when it comes to family planning. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from putting off the matter. A discussion with your family is crucial for effective and proper estate planning, and while conversations about family finances may get controversial, everybody benefits from the result.

How to Talk Estate Planning with Family

What Do People Avoid Estate Planning Discussions?

There are quite a few reasons why someone wouldn’t want to initiate a discussion about estate planning with their family. Firstly and most commonly, the fact that an estate planning discussion can potentially culminate in family conflict is a turn-off for many people. Conflict can complicate the process of estate planning regardless of the size of the estate and quite frankly, most people who suspect there will be family conflict abort the notion entirely. Another reason involves the distribution of assets. Although most people would hope that their estate is divided evenly among the family, the fact is that every family situation is different, and thus, assets are often divided against the hopes or intentions of certain family members, inevitably leading to conflict within the family. Lastly, another common reason why some people avoid talking estate planning with their families involves the fear of providing “security” that may damage their motivation to pursue personal or career goals they may have set. Depending on the size of an estate, there is little doubt concerning the fact that having access to extra funds can affect one’s ambition, particularly since they no longer have the same drive to achieve as they may have had when they had fewer funds in the bank.

How to Initiate a Discussion on Estate Planning?

Oftentimes, the best method of starting a financial discussion is by easing in. Don’t put off your family by immediately talking about dividing assets. Begin the conversation by discussing what a will is, how it can be useful, and how you could possibly get it done. After you are on the same page, you can start to suggest creating a will and respectfully integrate the fact that money will be left behind and that you want to divide in the fairest way possible. Listen to everyone’s opinion and give your own. Some people’s circumstances are different than others’, and you should discuss this with your family in the event that you plan to leave some members of your family more than the others. A general rule to follow is to be very respectful, considerate of everyone’s opinions, and to explain that everyone’s well-being is of utmost importance to you.

What Should Be Discussed With Family?

The first thing to be discussed is the naming of a trustworthy executor. An executor, usually a family member, will carry out the instructions detailed in your will. The executor also has to notify government agencies of your death, contact beneficiaries, and handle the probate court process. Next, you discuss the beneficiaries. This is a difficult task for some, but understand that your will goes into effect after you pass away, and decisions made right now will have a tangible impact when that time comes. Additionally, discuss backup beneficiaries to counter unforeseen events, such as injury or death. You should also talk about who will serve as a witness, a role that provides an evidentiary function to the probate process. Witnesses should be non-beneficiaries to avoid conflicts of interest.

Consult An Attorney

Your family is important to you. If you avoid discussing a will with your family to avoid conflict, you stand to hurt them more after your passing by leaving them grieving and confused. If you or a loved are considering drafting a will, we recommend consulting an estate planning lawyer. An estate planning lawyer will ensure your estate plan perfectly translates your final wishes.