How, When, and Why You Should Discuss Estate Planning with Your Family Members

Discussing Your Estate Plan with Your FamilyYou may have read a few helpful tips on how children can broach the topic of estate planning with their elderly relatives. But what if seniors have already made their selections on beneficiaries and caregivers? Should you tell your relatives about your estate plan, or leave them to discover your wishes after you’re gone?

How to Discuss Your Estate Planning Choices with Your Family

It is always better to discuss your estate plan with your family before it is finalized. Not only will this help your family members prepare themselves for the choices you made to take effect, it also helps them get their own affairs in order and make financial choices for their own futures. Another benefit of having the discussion with your family is that it allows them to voice their concerns, giving you more perspective on your decisions and allowing you to make changes.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind When Discussing Your Estate Plan with Your Family

  • Choose Your Moment

    You can speak with your relatives as a group, but some topics should be discussed one-on-one to avoid embarrassment or hurt feelings. Choosing your business successor should be done privately, but asking if there is any specific property your relatives would like to have can be done over the dinner table.
  • Ask, Don’t Tell

    You may dispose of your property any way your heart desires, but it is a good idea to ask people who will have to play a significant role after your death. If you want a certain person to act as trustee or become a primary caregiver for an ailing relative, it is best to clear the decision with him or her ahead of time to avoid a shock (or resentment) later.
  • Adopt a “Need-to-Know” Policy

    Not everyone will need to be informed of every detail of your plan; however, you should inform everyone who is involved in a decision that could have a dramatic effect on his or her life. It is important to inform those who will benefit from your will, but equally important to inform those who will not. You should also make sure the person who is acting as your executor knows where you keep your important documents and has the name of your attorney.
  • Be Tactful

    You likely have good reason for dividing your property the way you have chosen, but you are likely to be met with opposition if the division is seen as unfair. Be prepared to explain why you made the choices you did, and make sure you are open to questions. Letting your beneficiaries voice their concerns will go a long way toward avoiding disagreements (and challenges to your will) after your death.
  • Stick to Your Guns

    Just as with any other facet of family life, it will be impossible to please everyone with the choices you have made. However, it is important that you do what is best for your children and grandchildren, rather than allow them free access to your estate to do with as they please.

If you are having difficulty making your estate planning choices, we can advise you on your options and make it easier to get your affairs in order. Contact the Law Office of Walter B. Shurden today at 877-241-1230 or email us to have our staff get in touch with you.

Walt Shurden
Board Certified Elder Law Attorney