Nobody relishes the idea of talking about estate planning and yet if you want to maintain a healthy relationship with your loved ones now and long after you’re gone, it’s something you need to do. This year, when your family gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, let them in on what you wish to do with your life’s work. It may not be the lightest of conversation starters, but it’s a talk they will ultimately be grateful for having.
Talking About Estate Planning with Family
You’re not alone if you’re thinking that pitching such a loaded subject is a great way to ruin the holidays. Taboos around talking about money run deep; however, the data shows that they are misplaced and end up hurting families. A Nasdaq report on general wealth demonstrates that 70 percent of families lose their wealth by the second generation and 90 percent by the third. One of the key reasons the report identifies as responsible for this is lack of communication. That is, families don’t talk.
Failing to talk to your children about your wealth (and how you’d like them to handle it) doesn’t just all but guarantee its mismanagement, it also sets them up for conflict when they one day have to administer your estate. Avoid this by having a thoughtful conversation this year while you’re all gathered together.
Estate Planning Conversation Starters: How to Begin
Only you know how best to broach delicate territory with your family. While there may be no singular approach to talking about estate planning, everyone will benefit from some advance planning.
Maybe you talk to people individually before gathering together so everyone has time to reflect. Maybe you let the topic surface organically by, say, asking if anyone’s ever wondered about Queen Elizabeth II’s estate plan. Maybe you simply send everyone an email letting them know you’d like to address the subject.
Organize Your Thoughts
Everyone’s bound to feel nervous about having the estate planning talk and so it helps if you can keep things on track by arriving prepared. Long before you put the turkey in the oven, take time to list your assets and make notes about who might get what. Likewise, reflect on who might be well-suited to serve as executor of your estate, financial power of attorney, healthcare representative, trustee, etc. If you are unsure of what is required of these roles or which assets you need to worry about, talk to an experienced estate planning attorney.
Good conversation starters are those that encourage conversation and open lines of communication. This first talk about estate planning won’t be the last. It will take time to work through all the details and so there’s no need to rush. What matters most in this initial chat is that everyone is allowed time to speak and no one is put off from continuing the conversation.
Estate planning is an organic process and details will evolve as you and your loved ones’ lives grow and change.
To learn more about how estate planning helps nurture healthy relationships among your family or for tips on talking about the subject over the holidays, do not hesitate to contact the Polaris Law Group either by calling or using the contact form on our webpage. You can also register for one of our upcoming workshops so that you can have an abundance of knowledge leading you into the holidays. Sign up here.