In many families, finances and estate talks are taboo. Other families laugh and make jokes like, “Well, guess who just lost their inheritance!” No matter what kind of family dynamics exist in your life, talking about what will happen after a person dies can be a painful and scary discussion, but a necessary one. It’s important to talk with your loved ones about what you want, what they want, and what is laid out in your will.
- Keep it light ─ Having this discussion can bring up a lot of emotions for your loved ones; thinking about losing someone you love so dearly is painful. So keeping the conversation light but to the point can help keep the conversation on track and productive.
- Talk openly and honestly ─ A decision you have made may hurt someone’s feelings, or there may be thing you don’t want to tell people about, but it is crucial to be open and honest with your beneficiaries.
- Discuss values, not just valuables ─ When you die, how do you want people to remember you? What parts of you do you want to live on? This may include traditions, values, family names, rituals, religious beliefs, and so on. This is an important matter to bring up during this discussion with your family. Think back on times that have meant a great deal to your family or traditions that have brought you great joy. Maybe it’s very important to you to have your grandmother’s name passed on from generation to generation. Talk about these things with your family to share how you feel and to see how they feel.
- Have a professional present ─ Having your estate planner present can be very helpful and, in some cases, necessary. In many cases, a professional has a better understanding of how estate planning works and can assist by answering any questions your loved ones may have. You might have a family-only conversation first and then a second conversation with your family and the estate planning professional.