Talking with Family About Estate Planning

When it comes to estate planning, there are significant financial and personal benefits to having sensitive conversations about your estate plan with your loved ones. What better time to have these important conversations with your family than now, around the holidays when everyone is together? Below are some key reasons why you should have an open conversation with your loved ones about your estate plan.

Executors and Guardians

Many times, family members are chosen as an executor to an estate or as guardians for minor children.  It is important to discuss these appointments with your choices prior to naming them within your will.  Both executor duties and guardianships are huge responsibilities, and it’s best to ensure your choices are willing to take these on.

Family Impact

Since your family is significantly impacted by these plans, it’s best to discuss them so they know what to expect in advance.  Not explaining your choices prior to your passing can not only lead to hurt feelings and anger, but does not allow for your family members to plan for possibilities that may come up as a result.

Reducing Chances for Disagreements Later

An open dialogue will reduce the chances a family member could contest your will later.  When beneficiaries understand your decisions and know the true intent of your estate planning documents, the chance of a will contest is reduced.

Making the Plan Known

If a will or other estate planning documents cannot be located, they cannot be presented to be used after your passing.  It’s important that family members know that these documents exist and how to locate them.

Certainly estate planning is not a favorite topic for family discussions, but it is a conversation that needs to happen.  It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable either. A great resource of ideas when having end-of-life conversations is The Conversation Projection. This conversation is meant to be a gift to your family. Remember, a well thought out plan will not be easily executed if it hasn’t been communicated to key people involved. Often, working with an estate planning attorney can be the catalyst for this conversation, and they can also provide tips for you in making this conversation with your family productive. If you are a member of our Legacy Protection Plan, we have a special Having the Conversation workshop for our members.

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

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