December 18th, 2017
The holidays are the time of year when most families make time to come together and celebrate. Although this is a busy season, it is important for you to carve out time to talk to your family about your estate planning. If it is possible, you want to discuss your goals when you are face-to-face with your children. We know this can be a difficult topic to discuss and want to share five tips with you to ensure it is the best conversation possible.
01. Plan ahead for the conversation.
Start by preparing your objectives and talking points beforehand. You know your children will have questions. Think about what these questions may be. You can plan your answers in advance and be ready to explain them. When you know exactly what you want to accomplish, you will not be easily sidetracked. You will want to be able to tell your children who your estate planning attorney is and may even want to bring copies of your documents to the meeting. Sharing your estate planning documents, although not for everyone, is another way to give your children a clear understanding of your wishes and leave little room for misinterpretation.
02. Understand everyone is different.
You know that both you and your children have different personalities and viewpoints on certain subjects. Each person in your estate planning meeting could react differently to the information you share. You know your children best. Thinking through their potentially emotional reactions will help you be better prepared to lead this meeting. Also, bear in mind, that your children may have estate planning of their own and this could influence their opinions on what your planning should be.
03. Answer questions as openly as possible.
Be prepared for your children to ask you why you made the decisions you did. We often see conflict arise for our clients when one child believes he or she is better suited for a role you have assigned to another. For example, you may have a child who lives in your town, but you have named the child who lives out-of-state as your health care decision maker. Be able to talk about your reasons. Everyone does not have to agree with your decisions. It is important, though, for the future of your children’s relationship, for you to share your reasoning.
04. Communicate your goals.
It can be easy to get angry, confused or sidetracked during tough conversations like this one. If this happens, take a step back. Be sure to remind your children why you created your planning. Let them know that is not only to protect you, but that it is a critical step in securing their future as well.
05. Remind them this conversation is not the last one.
Give your children time to process the information you have given them. Thinking about a time when you will no longer be with them or are incapacitated, is not easy. Let them know that you want to answer any questions they have as they reflect on what you have shared with them. You can go ahead and set a time to talk as a group, or leave it until a later time. Sharing this with your children allows them to collect their thoughts and for you to consider their wishes.
Do you need more ideas? Are you worried your estate plan may not be ready to share with your children? Do not hesitate to let us know. We would love to schedule a meeting to talk to you about this specific issue or any other questions you may have on your estate planning.