Talking with family members about death is not an easy prospect. However, doing so can significantly limit future surprises, especially regarding an estate plan that contains important information about the last wishes of their loved one. Having that difficult discussion may actually show loved ones their welfare is paramount.
The grantor, or the person to whom the estate plan belongs, not only wants to look after his or her own financial well-being, but likely also wants to ensure his or her last wishes don't cause any dissention, including the possibility of legal problems.
Broaching the subject
It may be wise for one to have a plan of action before speaking to loved ones. In other words, preparing a roadmap of sorts for an all-encompassing plan may make the actual writing of it easier. The design phase is when the grantor is likely to turn his or her thoughts to what he or she would like the document to contain along with any potential problems those details could cause.
If the plan includes children -- adult children particularly -- the grantor may give thought to certain plausible complications that could arise from an estate plan such as:
- A sense of expectation as to who will be getting what
- A lack of financial transparency of his or her assets
- Children who could veer off an educational course or quit working altogether in the event that they stand to inherit a considerable amount
Parents don't want to think their children aren't getting along after they're not around to calm the storms. That is why having frank discussions about an estate plan will typically do family members a huge favour. Communication can do so much to assuage hard feelings. By sharing the intricacies of the plan, a grantor may also be able to determine changes that need to be made, depending upon feedback.
Deciding what would work best
Not all families are the same. There are distinct personalities that make up a unique family dynamic, and making the decision on how and when to discuss the particulars of an estate plan merits taking that into consideration. It may be wise before having such an important chat to ascertain whether to divulge all information in an estate plan or just some of it.
Are the grantor's family members more formal or less so? That might answer the question regarding how to present the information. Should it be at a formal dinner or a casual lunch? Is it better to talk to each person one-on-one or to gather everyone for a group discussion? The answers to these questions likely hinge upon what the grantor intends to share in the plan and if any of that information is sensitive to just one or a couple of individuals.
The rationale behind decisions
If family members have questions about the rationale behind what the estate plan includes, it's up to the grantor to make the decision whether he or she wants to discuss the reasons for the decisions. Expounding upon those decisions may help prevent misunderstandings and hurt feelings. The unique, personal dynamics within a family will typically determine if this is the appropriate course of action to t ake.
Where to turn for help and support
Preserving one's legacy and ensuring one's final wishes are met can come with many questions and concerns. Obtaining legal counsel can help to smooth out many of the issues involved with this process. An experienced lawyer can help clients construct clear, concise estate plans, allowing them to more easily discuss the plans' contents with loved ones.
This article discusses the significance of discussing an estate plan to one's potential heirs.
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*Why discussing an estate plan with loved ones is crucial*
Take a look at this article that explains why letting loved ones know about an estate plan is both beneficial for them and for the grantor. Honest communication might alleviate a potentially stressful situation if family members know what an estate plan encompasses and how they figure into it. Assistance from a lawyer for any aspect regarding estate planning can greatly increase the odds of a smooth transition in the event of one's passing.