For many families, having tough discussions are something to be avoided – and estate planning can top the list of touchy subjects.
Even if estate planning is a tough topic for you to discuss with your loved ones, you might want to consider the benefits of letting your family members know at least a little bit about your plan.
Let Your Loved Ones Know What To Expect
First, having a talk about the basic outline of your estate plan can help avoid unwelcome surprises when you pass away. What kinds of unwelcome surprises? Here are just a few examples:
- Someone being appointed personal representative or trustee who doesn’t really want to serve in that capacity;
- Someone not being appointed personal representative or trustee who does want to serve in that capacity;
- A loved one who expects an inheritance, and doesn’t receive one – or receives a much smaller one than expected.
Chances are, when it comes to your estate plan, you have excellent reasons for the choices you’ve made. And, talking about it can help you explain your reasoning and smooth over any hurt feelings. If you let your family members discover harsh surprises once you’re gone, you could be setting them up for confusion, conflict, and a potential lifetime’s worth of bitterness.
Resolve Conflict Before It’s Too Late
Many people are hesitant to talk with family members about their estate plan, because they’re afraid of the conflict that might arise. But, isn’t estate planning really about smoothing the way for those closest to you when you pass away? And, this being the case, consider the devastating impact that conflict among your family members could have when you’re no longer around to step in, explain your choices, and help resolve any conflicts. More than a few families have been torn apart by fights over a loved one’s estate. If you fear conflict is inevitable, it might be better to deal with it now, while you have a chance do something about it.
You Don’t Have to Have a Family Meeting
If you envision gathering your entire family in one room at the same time to have a big discussion about your estate plan – and the thought sends your blood pressure through the roof – keep in mind that there are alternatives. You can just as easily talk to your loved ones one or two at a time. Or, you can choose to only talk to key people about your plan. At a bare minimum, make sure your personal representative knows how to access your estate planning documents when the time comes.