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Talking with Your Family About Your Estate Plan

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Is it time to have “the talk” with your kids? We’re not talking about a “birds and bees” talk but one that is equally important, perhaps more so.

Everyone has concerns about what will happen when they die. Some people worry about their homes, cars, or money. Others worry about their children. Rare, however, is the person who actually wants to talk about these things with their families.

One thing I have learned is that communication is one of the greatest skills to have.

Opening these conversations with your family will be difficult, but nowhere near as difficult as it would be on your family in the absence of advance planning. Fortunately, there are steps you can take before the conversation – and during the conversation – to help it go more smoothly.

Preparation Is Key

As with many things in life, preparation is a key to success in these conversations. First, when you choose important decision makers, make sure you match the skills of the person to the job. For example, the executor of a will must be able to gather assets, prepare paperwork, handle finances, and deal with potential family disputes. It would be unwise to select an executor who lacks these capabilities.

Too often, people choose executors, trustees, guardians, and powers of attorney based on emotions or arbitrary factors, such as who is the oldest child or who might be offended if not chosen. These are difficult, demanding jobs, and you need to choose people who can handle them. It also helps to talk these issues through with an experienced attorney or confident in advance of making your selections.

Next, prepare your paperwork before your family meeting. Work with your lawyer to make the best decisions possible, and commit them to write. This will help reduce any misunderstandings about your wishes.

Before the meeting with your family, consider the questions that may arise. For example, if you are concerned that one child will be upset because you named another child executor, be ready to answer questions about why you made that decision. It may be that the person you chose is an accountant and would be well-suited for the job, or it may be that you’re concerned about overburdening the other child. Whatever the case, be prepared to offer your reasoning. Your explanation will go a long way toward reducing any hard feelings and potential disputes after you’re gone.

Come Prepared for Business

Once you have your family together, it is important that you not only let them know what your decisions are but also that it is important to you that they support you and each other. Have copies of your documents available so your family can ask questions about them.

You should be prepared to answer potential questions. And remember, this may be an uncomfortable topic of discussion for your family members. If someone just can’t get on board, remember that you are dealing with your life and your assets. The ultimate decisions as to how you handle them are yours, and you can even terminate the meeting if necessary. Also, make sure your family knows that your decisions may change as time goes on.

Finally, remember the goal for this discussion is to provide your family with more than just a set of legal documents outlining your wishes. By talking to them about your intentions you are helping them gain understanding, comfort, and even buy-in with your plan. Contact us today for general information.

This article is a service of Kundani Chang Khinda Wilson LLP. We are an award-winning law firm that specializes in business and estate planning for clients like you. The goal for every family is to stay educated on all topics like this, avoid probate, avoid estate taxes, and build a legacy for you and your loved ones. What sets our firm apart is that we build lasting, lifelong relationships with our clients. They rely on us to keep them updated, provide sound legal counsel, and be there for them immediately if any problems should ever arise. The best part is we don’t charge hourly fees to our families, so you never have to worry about speaking to us. If you’re ready to keep your family out of Court, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation or visit our website at www.kckwlaw.com.

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We want you to feel comfortable discussing your legal issue with us, so we offer a free consultation to learn about your problem. Contact us today to setup a time to come in and talk with our team.