Once you create an estate plan, you should sit down with your family members and discuss the contents of it with them. This gives you a chance to explain any decisions you’ve made — and it gives your family a chance to ask the questions that concern them.
For some, this is a sensitive subject. Taking the time to plan what you’ll say and how you’ll approach things that might be touchy may help the conversation to go smoother. It might help to have a copy of your estate planning documents with you when you do this. Here’s where to start:
1. Go over the basics
Some people don’t feel up to going over the entire estate plan point-by-point. If this is you, hit the highlights that are most important. That can include things like:
- Who you’ve chosen as your executor
- Your powers of attorney and any end-of-life planning you’ve made
- How your estate will be divided between your heirs
- Why (if applicable) you are leaving someone out of your will or leaving one heir more or less than the others
- What you have decided will happen to family heirlooms
This could be a fairly short conversation or rather lengthy, depending on what assets you have. Either way, doing it now could prevent battles over your estate that will likely tear apart your family.
2. Don’t let yourself be bullied
If all goes well, your family will be supportive and understanding of your choices. If someone isn’t, hear them out and listen to their reasoning — but don’t change your plans unless that’s what you want to do.
While it’s important to consider the feedback you get about your estate plan, don’t let your loved ones push you into making changes. Every component of your estate plan should be based on what you want to happen with your assets.
If you have specific concerns about your estate plan and your family’s future, talk the issues over with your attorney before you have “the talk” with your family. That can help you find the right way to approach the situation and minimize any conflicts.