Conversations with your family or loved ones about estate planning can be challenging, since they involve difficult subjects. No one wants to think about their family members passing away and talking about financial topics can lead to conflict.
However, having an open and honest talk about estate planning is extremely important, particularly if you have a lot of assets or run a business. If your hope is to keep your business in the family and running successfully after you pass away, this talk needs to happen.
Why this conversation is important
The point of these conversations is to avoid situations where survivors are given assets or responsibilities that they are not ready for. You may intend to leave your business to your children, assuming that they would happily continue running it, but this may not be the case.
It is best to have these conversations before a crisis arises. Decisions made during times of high stress when people are emotional usually turn out to be the wrong ones.
When and where to have the talk
Gather your family or loved ones together during a relatively peaceful time at a place where everyone feels comfortable. Be upfront with them and tell them that you want to talk about your estate planning.
As you explain your intentions, listen to their feedback and give it careful consideration. Answer any questions they have honestly and respectfully.
Emphasize your goals for the meeting, such as getting everyone on the same page when it comes to how the family assets or business will be passed on or continue after you are gone. Many families place a huge value on traditions or legacies.
Address incapacity issues
You also want to ensure that there is a plan in place if you become incapacitated. A personal representative will likely be appointed to run the business, and that person should be aware of their responsibilities.
You may walk away from your meeting with more questions than answers. Estate planning attorneys can provide you with advice and knowing how your loved ones feel will help you receive the most accurate guidance as to next steps.