When it comes to the future, there are many variables that are out of our control. Estate planning is one way you can remove some of that uncertainty. An estate plan can help lay the groundwork for your wishes (regarding your property and your healthcare) to be fulfilled, your wealth to be preserved and your assets to be transitioned smoothly to your beneficiaries.
When an estate plan is done right, it can give you a sense of peace knowing you and your family are well prepared for the future.
While many people may recognize the importance of drafting a will as part of their estate plan, most don’t realize that communicating the details and your intentions can be just as important.
Talking to your family about your estate plan can be a sensitive topic, one many families tend to avoid. However. by putting off this conversation, you risk leaving the outcome to chance.
With grief and strong emotions involved, the lack of a clear estate plan can create stress and disrupt family harmony. It can also erode the value of your estate by increasing the cost and time it takes to administer, meaning less wealth for your loved ones. Having discussions about your estate plan now may help your family develop a shared common understanding of the future.
5 critical topics in estate-planning discussions
If you already have an updated will, you're off to a good start, but a comprehensive estate plan also means making powers of attorney, selecting an executor and more.
Here are some topics to discuss with your loved ones.
Starting the conversation
Talking about your estate plan with a family member is a delicate topic. Selecting the right time, place and people for this conversation is critical. The opportunity to broach the subject may come up more times than you think. Special events, holidays, family gatherings and family trips are usually calming times when people are more emotionally available. Here are some opportunities to start the conversation.
Sharing stories about friends and family
"I was thinking about what happened to (a family or friend). I want to plan ahead so I don't become a burden to you or anyone else. Let's talk about how we can prevent this from happening to us."
Talking about retirement life
"I've been thinking about my retirement, and I want to be able to (leave something for charity). I want to share my plans in case they impact you."
Discussing a treasured family asset
"I've always loved our (family property or heirloom) and have been thinking a lot about it lately. I wanted to share some ideas on my plans for it down the road."
Thinking about the future of family members
"I want to help (a younger family member) with their education savings. I have some ideas on how to do that, but I would like to discuss them with you."
Estate planning involves more than simply preparing for the inevitable. We're here to help. Your advisor can help bring together a team of experts to help you get started.
This is an update of an article originally published in July, 2019.