Ah, estate planning.
There never seems to be a good time to talk about “What will happen when…?”
The truth is the sooner you start this process, the better it is for everyone. Today is the perfect time to begin the discussion with your family.
Communication During Estate Planning Is Key
No doubt you’ve heard it before when it comes to relationships: communication is essential. Unfortunately, families don’t have the best track record when it comes to communication. It might be challenging, but talking to your family about an estate plan will be the best decision.
Sitting down and having those hard conversations with your family should be a priority. Tell them your wishes about who will get what when the time comes—and be specific. Ask those who matter most what their concerns are about your death. Get it all out in the open.
If you know everyone’s wishes beforehand, it saves any guesswork, heartache, and arguing later. Avoid drama after your death by being honest about why you’re leaving certain things to certain people. After all, when you’re gone, you don’t want to spark arguments due to your dying wishes.
Expand Your Estate Plan Beyond the Dollar Signs
Remember that you are more than just money. Your life is a story filled with insight, knowledge, history, and so much more. Think about including a video, a letter, or audiotape for your family after you’re gone.
It will give family members a better understanding of your decisions and the value they hold for you. If you write a letter, then consider including something handwritten in your estate plan.
Diminish Family Drama Proactively
If you have many children, avoid having one sibling in charge of the other’s inheritance. It will cause problems unless all parties agree ahead of time. A neutral person will help to divert any future resentment and disagreement. Communicating your wishes ahead of time will go a long way in sparing your family from any arguments.
Another option is to appoint a third party to look after your children’s inheritance. You may even choose to pass on some of your estate while you’re still alive, in the form or a trust or gift. As a bonus, gifting assets now save on estate taxes.
Stay in the Loop
Keep in mind that estate planning is an ongoing process. Make changes to your plan as milestones occur in your life. Events such as divorce, disability, a birth, or loss of a loved one will all require changes to your estate plan. By remaining proactive about updating the document, you will spare any confusion or disagreements.
Ask for Estate Planning Help
Sometimes, having a rational conversation with family just isn’t in the cards. In those cases, it might be a smart choice to involve an estate-planning attorney early on.
Developing a good relationship with your lawyer is one of the greatest benefits to keep drama out of your estate. Plan accordingly but can also stave off any future unrest. Speak freely about your family dynamics with your attorney. Use your attorney to assist with those difficult family conversations. And keep your family involved along the way.
Ogborne Law is ready to get involved in your family discussions to help prepare everyone for the future. Contact us to schedule your consultation; we’ll help everyone sleep better and feel more confident about the future.
Engaging with an attorney to protect your family is never an easy step. Whether you need to protect your family from the unthinkable or restructure your family through collaborative divorce, we’re here to help. When you’re ready to schedule a consultation with Michelle Ogborne, please visit the scheduling page to get started.