You’re already ahead of many people if you’ve decided to create an estate plan. But the process doesn’t end there. Talking openly with your family and loved ones about your plan is a crucial next step.
Having this conversation can be tricky, but it’s essential for ensuring that your wishes are understood and carried out as you intend. It’s easy to push it off for a “better time,” but the reality is that the best time to have this talk is now.
Choose a calm, non-rushed setting
When you decide to talk about your estate plan, choose a setting where everyone feels at ease and has enough time for a deep discussion. Holidays or family events may seem convenient since everyone is gathered, but they’re often too hectic for this conversation. A quiet afternoon or a casual dinner where everyone is relaxed is often a better option.
Be factual but compassionate
This isn’t just a financial or legal discussion. It’s also an emotional one. Your family needs to know what you’ve decided, but they also need to know that you’ve considered their feelings. Be ready to explain your reasoning and acknowledge that while it might be a complex topic to discuss, it’s crucial for everyone’s peace of mind.
Be prepared for questions and reactions
You should also brace yourself for questions, concerns or even pushback. Estate planning involves sensitive issues like inheritance, end-of-life care and future responsibilities. These can trigger strong emotions. Give people space to express their feelings and questions without judgment.
People’s lives and wishes change, and your estate plan might need to be adjusted accordingly. Make it clear that this conversation is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. Remember to periodically review the plan with someone familiar with estate plans so you can ensure the current version still reflects your wishes.