We try to provide readers with helpful tips and hints to make the estate planning process easier and more comprehensive regardless of an individual’s financial situation. Consistently, one of the most important aspects of successful and comprehensive estate planning is communication. While engaging in estate planning is an important step, making sure your loved ones and heirs understand your estate plan as well as the reasons for your decisions is a crucial component of making sure your estate plan is solid and will fulfill your wishes. Recently, Marketwatch.com featured an article that highlights some tips on you can approach talking about your estate plan with your family.
The Importance of Communication
Your loved ones and heirs are the most affected by your estate plan and the events that lead to it. If you spend the time, money, and energy involved in creating an estate plan that addresses your goals and the needs of your heirs then it only makes sense to communicate that to them.
Perhaps you have multiple children and the inheritances for them that you have built into your estate plan are different? If that is the case, do not simply rely on the idea that they will understand your decision. You need to explain your reasoning behind it so that each heir understands why you have made the decisions you have made. After all, when it comes down to it, you will not be there to help them avoid conflict or hurt feelings that could have an unintended negative effect on familial relationships. This is an especially important consideration for those in blended families who may potentially have a number of different heirs vying for resources or questioning the decisions you make. By talking to your heirs when you are of sound mind and body, and as a result can easily explain your decisions, you can also help avoid costly Will contests that could not only drain resources from your estate but also permanently damage the dynamics of your family.
Talking to your family members of other heirs can also help you make more responsible choices. If you engage your heirs throughout the estate planning process, you can find out exactly what is important to them. For example, maybe an antique family engagement ring is more important to one child than another. Wouldn’t it be nice to make sure that it goes to the one that appreciates it the most? You might be able to make that happen while at the same time minimizing conflict and in-fighting. However, you may never know the answer to issues like this if you do not engage family members in the discussion.
It is crucial to discuss your estate planning objectives with your spouse. Many of your objectives may intertwine with theirs, and while you may create separate estate plans it is important to take each one into consideration when moving forward. You may not be able to align all of your objectives, but chances are you want to make sure your spouse is treated fairly. Especially in families that involve later marriages, you may want to avoid claims of undue influence or other instances that can easily give rise to family members contesting your estate plan. There are a number of mechanisms an experienced estate planning attorney can help you put into your estate plan to cover all of your bases, but you still need to make sure everyone – including your estate planning attorney – is on board with them and understands your objectives.