Talk to Family about Estate Planning

Talk to Family about Estate Planning

Estate planning is a critical part of securing your family’s financial future. If you can’t make decisions on your own behalf, a proper estate plan can do that for you. Discussing estate planning with your family can be a challenging, emotional, and uncomfortable process. Many people avoid these types of conversations because discussing money or death can be uncomfortable to discuss.

These discussions can open the floodgates: there may be a lot of crying, anger, and a gamut of other emotions. Not having a discussion on estate planning can lead to the same emotions when you pass away: squabbling between family members, crying, screaming, anger and a lot of hurt feelings. Discussing things up front can soften the blow among family members.

Family Discussions

Discussing estate planning with your family

Discussing estate planning with your family is more than just a matter of convenience; it’s an essential step to preserve your legacy.

Here are some key reasons why family discussions on estate planning are crucial:

1. Clarity

You will want to start with an open and honest conversation about your estate plan. Make sure that your family understands your wishes and intentions. Honesty can prevent confusion (and hopefully) disputes down the road. It can also mitigate any fights between siblings or loved ones when you’re gone. There have been many squabbles, court battles, etc., over inheritance when people pass away. Having the whole conversation about estate planning while you’re alive can smooth things over in the future.

2. Informed Decisions


Involving your family in estate planning means that you empower them to make informed decisions. Aside from understanding your motivations surrounding inheritance, wealth, and who gets what, family members will know where to find important documents in the event of your incapacity or passing.

3. Family Squabbles

As previously mentioned, squabbles among family members are not uncommon. You need to openly communicate your wishes and desires for your estate. You have no doubt seen the many articles in the media about heirs fighting over what their parents left behind when they died.

4. Legacy Preservation

Your estate plan may include instructions for distributing assets, charitable bequests, or other ways to disperse your estate. Estate planning also protects your legacy the way you want. Did you want to leave a charitable donation to so-and-so? Estate planning lets you do that.

How to talk about Estate Planning

How to talk about Estate Planning

Start an initial conversation with your loved ones about estate planning by following these tips:

1. Right Time, Right Place:

A quiet, private setting where everyone can feel comfortable is the most ideal place to start the convo. This is probably most likely going to take place in the sanctity of your house.

2. Plan Ahead:

Gather up all of your estate planning documents, which include the following: a Will, Trust, Power of Attorney documents, etc. This can help facilitate the conversation and let you answer questions easily.

3. Transparency:

As previously mentioned, open and honest communication is the best path.

4. Actively Listen to your Family:

You can go through a gamut of emotions when talking about your estate: anxiety, anger, comfort, etc. Have your family members to share their thoughts, concerns, and questions. This is the best chance to dispel notions of favoritism or exclusion.

5. Patience:

Estate planning discussions can be emotionally charged. Allow for your family members to process their emotions on their own time.

6. Seek Professional Advice (if required):

If you require professional advice, from say, an Estate Planning Attorney, be sure to consult with one.

Common Concerns and How to Address Them

Estate planning discussions may bring up various concerns and fears among family members.

1. Fear of Inheritance

When you discuss inheritance issues with your loved ones, be sure to emphasize that discussing estate planning isn’t just about how much people are going to inherit; it’s about dispelling any ideas of favoritism. You will want to openly discuss your plans for inheritance and why you have things planned out the way they are.

2. Unequal Distribution

Unequal distribution of wealth can cause feelings of anger, rage, and sadness to pop up. One child may need more of your estate than another. Be sure to clarify why that is so in your estate plan.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What documents should I have ready for the discussion?

Gather any essential estate planning documents: a Will, Power of Attorney documents, etc. These documents will help provide context and clarity during the conversation.

2. Should I involve professionals in the discussion?

If you feel as though you require legal advice, consider inviting legal professionals to the discussion: estate planning professionals, such as attorneys or financial advisors, can provide expert guidance.

3. How often should I have these discussions?

Much like having a Last Will and Testament, estate plans should be regularly reviewed and updated as required. You might have to have an uncomfortable conversation about estate planning more than once.

4. What if my family is resistant to the idea of discussing estate planning?

You can start off with a small, introductory conversation about estate planning and work your way to discussing the more comprehensive aspects of your estate plan later on. Baby steps, people!

By sitting down and powering through these types of conversations, you can provide clarity, prevent conflicts, and ensure that your loved ones are well-prepared for the future. Open communication is the key!