An estate plan is a valuable tool for any adult. It can minimize taxes, protect property, and provide critical guidance to loved ones who may otherwise struggle with making difficult decisions on your behalf.
While an estate plan is definitely useful, its effectiveness can be enhanced by discussing your plans with at least one loved one while you are still alive. Of course, this can be a difficult topic, and you may not know how to bring it up. Still, rather than delay indefinitely, consider the following suggestions for easing your way into the conversation.
Provide a summary explanation
It's not always necessary to reveal the specifics of your plan. There can be great value in providing your loved ones with a summary explanation of what you have included in your estate plan. Consider explaining your general views on medical care or funeral arrangements; talk about the people you appointed to act on your behalf; explain what you want to happen with your property.
Even a general overview can give your loved ones an understanding of your mindset and wishes. Doing so can prove to be quite valuable should questions about your plans later arise.
Discuss unusual clauses
Elements that you might want to discuss in more detail are unusual or controversial clauses. This can include unequal inheritances or disinheritances, sizable donations to charities, or unexpected terms of trust payments. Explaining these decisions and the logic behind them can ensure at least one other person can attest to the fact that you made the decisions deliberately and thoughtfully.
Be open to answering questions
Allowing a loved one to ask questions can be critical. It allows a person not only to gain insight into the reasoning behind your decisions, but also to seek clarification on matters that may not be understandable to them or others. This can eliminate surprises that trigger legal disputes.
These are just some tips for discussing your estate plan with your loved ones. Other suggestions can be found in articles like this one.
Ultimately, the goal behind discussing your estate plan should be to provide clarity and to minimize questions about the validity and legality of your decisions. It can also provide everyone with some peace of mind, which can be invaluable.