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How to Discuss Your Estate Plan With Family Members

Family gathers to discuss their estate plan

6 Tips to Help Navigate This Difficult Conversation

Discussing your estate planning wishes with loved ones can be a difficult and stressful conversation. Not only does the conversation require everyone involved to consider your eventual death but it can also bring up sensitive financial issues, such as who will inherit what. However, in order to avoid misunderstandings once it’s too late to have a say, it’s important to clearly communicate your wishes in advance. The following tips can help you navigate this difficult conversation.

#1 – Choose the right time and place.

When it comes to having a sensitive conversation such as this one, time and place can make a big difference. Choose a date and location that lead to open and honest communication. Resist the urge to bring up the topic at family gatherings, such as holidays or other celebrations when emotions may be running high. Instead, consider scheduling a dedicated family meeting or setting aside some one-on-one time with each family member to discuss your estate plan in a calm and private setting.

#2 – Be prepared.

Be ready to provide your family with specific information about your estate plan, including details about your will, trust, powers of attorney, healthcare directives and other important documents. Make a list of your assets and accounts, beneficiaries and any specific instructions you’d like your loved ones to carry out on your behalf.

#3 – Be transparent and honest.

When discussing your estate plan, it’s important to communicate your intentions clearly and honestly. Explain the reasoning behind your decisions using straightforward language that’s easy to understand. Ask your family members questions to make sure they understand your wishes and feel comfortable executing on them after your death.

#4 – Be sensitive to your loved ones’ feelings.

While you may be able to focus on the logistics of estate planning, some loved ones may have a difficult time talking about your death. Others may feel anxious, confused or resentful about the decisions you’ve made. Be sensitive to your loved ones’ feelings, and approach the conversation with empathy and patience. Be ready to answer questions, address concerns and listen to your family members’ perspectives.

#5 – Emphasize the importance of family harmony.

Remind your loved ones that one of the main goals of advanced estate planning is to promote family harmony and avoid conflicts among your loved ones following your death. Remind your family members that estate planning isn’t just about assets and material possessions — it’s also about preserving your relationships and family values. Encourage your family to work together in a cooperative and respectful manner to ensure your wishes are carried out.

#6 – Seek professional guidance.

Estate planning can be a complex process that’s often difficult to fully grasp. Your wealth manager and/or estate planning attorney can explain the intricacies of your estate planning decisions and help ensure your loved ones understand your wishes. If changes arise as a result of your conversation, these professionals can also help you see that any necessary modifications are properly incorporated into your estate planning documents.

Could you use some help preparing for this difficult family discussion? Creative Planning is here for you. Our focus on multigenerational wealth planning means that our experienced advisors hold difficult conversations with clients on a regular basis. If you have any questions or would like help getting the conversation started, please schedule a call with a member of our team.

This commentary is provided for general information purposes only, should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice, and does not constitute an attorney/client relationship. Past performance of any market results is no assurance of future performance. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.


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