Opening the conversation about estate planning can be challenging for some individuals. Many people struggle to talk with their adult children about end-of-life concerns, but clear communication about these issues can provide peace of mind for everyone in the family.
Try these tips to navigate the estate planning discussion with your family members.
Choose the right time
Have the conversation when everyone is together and the mood is calm and relaxed. A familiar environment like a casual lunch at home can facilitate a comfortable, open environment. Avoid waiting until a health crisis arises to bring up your will and other estate plans.
State your intentions for the conversation early, either before the visit or as your family members arrive. This will give them time to get used to the idea of discussing sensitive topics before diving right into concepts like finances and medical power of attorney. Let your family know that you want to ensure your loved ones carry out your wishes if you become incapacitated and that your spouse, children and grandchildren will receive the full benefit of your estate.
Explain your decisions
If you decide to leave specific assets to certain individuals rather than splitting property equally among your spouse and surviving children, talk about the reasons behind these choices. Otherwise, disagreements may arise during the execution of your estate when you are no longer able to make your intentions known.
Coordinate your plans
If you have grown children, they should consider their own estates–especially if they have children of their own. Discussing plans openly as a family can ease the process and allow the entire family to work together toward common goals.
Most people do not discuss estate planning with family members until an emergency occurs. Avoid placing the onus on your spouse and children to make critical health care and financial decisions without the necessary information about your wishes and desires. Although starting the conversation is sometimes difficult, doing so benefits all family members.