Talking with your loved ones about your estate plan may feel intimidating. Estate planning choices can be very personal, and most people do not enjoy talking about finances or death. However, calling a family meeting can be a beneficial conclusion to the estate planning process.
A family meeting can help prevent misunderstandings or hard feelings among your loved ones. Hearing you talk about your wishes may even prevent fights among family members. This may be especially important in blended families or situations when your estate plan treats your loved ones differently.
While a family meeting can have several social and emotional benefits for your family members, it can also help prevent some probate problems. After you pass away, disgruntled or disagreeing family members could challenge the validity of your estate planning documents in probate court. By giving your loved ones an opportunity to express their feelings while you are alive, you can personally address their concerns and explain your reasoning. Often, conversations like this are enough to prevent loved ones from taking legal action later.
What details should you share?
The amount of detail you choose to share is entirely up to you. Some people are uncomfortable sharing specific dollar amounts. Other people want to be sure their beneficiaries do not have unrealistic expectations. Sometimes general details and ballpark figures are enough. In other situations, like those involving a business, more detail may be needed to ensure a smooth transition.
Some information that may be beneficial for your loved ones to know, includes:
- What is in your will?
- Where can someone find your estate planning documents?
- Are you living within your means?
- Who are your alternate decision-makers?
- Who is the executive of your will?
If you struggle during the conversation, consider focusing on your values. For example, you may value fairness, which may influence your wish to divide your assets equally among your beneficiaries. Alternatively, you may value personalized gifts, which may lead you to divide your assets based on each beneficiary’s needs.
Your estate plan can be very personal, but it also has the potential to affect many people. The right amount of detail to share can vary from situation to situation. However, talking with your loved ones about your estate plan can help iron out the wrinkles now, so they can implement your wishes smoothly when the time comes.