While comprehensive estate planning is an important discussion, it is not typically one families have while sitting around the dinner table or enjoying family game night. The fact is that estate planning can be a difficult topic to bring up, and discussions about the approaches you and your spouse will take can be even more challenging.
However, talking to your spouse about the importance of estate planning – especially if you have a family to provide for – is something that has to happen at one point or another if you and your spouse want to ensure the integrity of your estate and the assets within it. The following tips might help you broach the subject.
Be Clear About Your Objectives
As with any important discussion, setting clear objectives at the beginning can be an important part of making sure you have positive and productive discourse. It is important to discuss why you believe estate planning is important, which may be harder than you think if your spouse is not on the same page. By providing them with important details about why estate planning is important and what it can provide for both of you as well as your family and other beneficiaries, you can help focus the discussion on what matters most. Doing so can also help keep tension at a minimum.
Identify What Is Most Important to You
As most married couples know, it si highly unlikely that you and your spouse will agree on every aspect of your estate plan. Comprehensive estate planning often involves important negotiations as well as some give and take. However, it is still appropriate for you to identify what is most important to you in your estate plan. By determining this for yourself, you are likely to approach estate planning with a clearer objective. You and your spouse may not agree on everything, but knowing what is most important to you and being able to discuss that openly with your spouse is crucial to successful estate planning.
Choose the Right Time
The right time to bring up estate planning might not be during a family vacation. It may not be on a Friday date night. Or, depending on your individual circumstances, one of those occasions might be exactly the right time. Ultimately, only you know when the right time to bring up estate planning with your spouse is.
The most important thing to remember is that the sooner you and your spouse begin to engage in comprehensive estate planning, the better the chances are that your estate plan will be able to meet your goals. Estate plans can always be reviewed and many vehicles within them can be adapted to changing circumstances down the line. The unexpected can happen at any moment, and being prepared for it will help you and your spouse protect what you have worked hard for.
Take Your Time
While it is never too early to engage in responsible estate planning, beginning the discussion can often be the hardest part. Chances are you and your spouse are not going to figure out your entire estate plan in one sitting, or even in one meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney. Estate plans evolve over time as certain needs arise and circumstances change. Once you and your spouse have begun considering estate planning, do not feel the need to rush the process. Especially when a disagreement arises, taking a break from the discussion or revisiting certain topics down the road might be the right answer in addressing estate planning challenges you and your spouse may face.