How to Approach Relatives About Your Estate Planning

June 25, 2021

estate planning

How to Approach Relatives About Your Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Death and finances are frequently tough subjects to broach with close kin. We are hesitant to bring them up because no one wants to consider the possibility that they or their relatives will no longer be alive. 

The fact that talking about personal finance is regarded as a taboo subject further complicates discussing your estate plan, i.e. death and finance in one session .

However, the decisions made in an estate plan will have an impact on others. Important matters such as who will make healthcare decisions for you and who will make them, end-of-life decisions, and who will inherit what should all be explored.

Many people avoid discussing it at all, preferring to leave it all to chance when you go. However, this frequently has unexpected implications, leaving your children in a sad state as they struggle to figure out what their parents’ objectives were. 

When they are already suffering from bereavement, this might lead to harsh feelings and legal complications. While this is the simplest option, it is not the best option for your relations.

But how do you go about bringing it up?

But how do you start this conversation when it’s about things we’ve been taught to avoid? Just as you may be hesitant to bring up the matter, your relatives may be as well. 

There is also the problem of resolving these calmly when your relatives have their own ideas and life plans that may conflict with yours or other relatives’ plans; this can be especially difficult if you have a blended family.

The first step is to shift your perspective from a strictly financial discourse to one in which you evaluate what is essential to your family and what legacy you want to leave behind.

In her book ‘Transparent Legacy,’ financial planner Cheryl asks, ‘Is it more important to spare yourself the agony of discussing your funeral desires, or is it more necessary to spare your kids that job of agreeing among themselves about what you’d have wanted?’

After all, relationships are more important than money and possessions. And the most important element of your legacy is the relationships you leave behind.

However, if conducted correctly, these conversations do not have to be frightening. And there is no sure-fire pattern for what to do because it really depends on your family and relationships, but when considering how to approach it, keep in mind what is more likely to generate goodwill among your successors after you’ve passed away.

Having a discussion before implementing any plan is a wonderful approach to avoid upset feelings.

Reduce conflicts by chatting with your family members before putting together your plan.

Having a discussion before implementing any plan is an excellent method to avoid wounded feelings since it makes others feel like they have a stake in the talk and prevents family from feeling like their opinions were ignored or that they had no say. It will help to reduce any disagreements that may arise when the strategy is implemented.

It actually depends on your family scenario whether you speak to everyone individually or put everyone down at the same time. Listening to your heirs and discussing their life ambitions, on the other hand, may provide you with some beneficial ideas. 

For example, one child may want to establish their own business and would prefer a lump payment, whilst another may prefer to have their own house. Alternatively, they may wish to take specific heirlooms or objects of sentimental worth. You may have made promises in the past that you have since forgotten.

Once you have this knowledge, you can create an estate plan that balances everyone’s needs.

This may be your most challenging talk, but it will also be one of the most gratifying.

Once the plan is in place, have another discussion.

When your estate plan is in place, it’s appropriate to have another conversation to clarify your goals and explain why you made certain decisions. Again, whether you have this all together or separately is entirely up to you to decide

However, ensure that the communication between heirs and what is in your plan is consistent. Also, if your plans alter, make sure everyone is informed of it. This will help your heirs avoid confusion and disappointment.

This conversation should include not just how your inheritance will be dispersed, but also what would happen if you lack mental capacity, such as who will have the lasting power of attorney  and what decisions they can and cannot make. 

And what wishes you have; for example, if they can sell property, what medical care you do and do not want to receive, and what you’d like to live; for example, if you are going into a care home, where should that be?

Discuss where they may find important documents including insurance policies , bank account information, and the estate plan  itself.

Finally, probably the most difficult topic to have is about your funeral plans. How would you like to be sent off? 

Who should be informed? Even specifics like what music you want played or whether you want donations to a charity are welcome.

This may be your most challenging talk, but it will also be one of the most gratifying. Having the knowledge that everything is in order and that your family are on board with your plans will provide you with reassurance when you need it the most.

We can assist you at every step of the journey, providing information on what is and isn’t doable, how to best balance your plan, and eventually putting it together on your behalf (for more information, see our estate planning page).

Fill out a contact form if you’d want to talk about it more.