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Discussing your estate plan with family members

There are certain topics that are considered too private and personal to discuss with others, even those closest to you. Estate planning can be one of these topics. You may feel uncomfortable discussing your own estate plan with anyone but your spouse or partner, if even them.

However, opting to avoid discussing the topic altogether with family, such as a spouse, children, grandchildren and more can be detrimental. When it comes time to administer the estate, feelings of confusion, animosity or even bitterness can arise from a lack of understanding.

Minimizing feelings of bitterness or misunderstanding

No one wants their loved ones to misunderstand their intentions or become bitter with their final wishes. Choosing to discuss your estate plan with your family or loved ones is entirely your decision. However, it may be beneficial to provide some transparency and reasoning behind the decision-making process that went into your planning.

Here are some ideas on how to approach the sensitive topic:

  1. Discuss the topic with all your beneficiaries together. While not for everyone, having an open dialogue with all your loved ones at once can allow for everyone to ask questions together and keep the discussion transparent.
  2. Discuss the topic with your beneficiaries one by one. Talking with each person individually can allow you to communicate more personalized messages based on what you think they would prefer to hear from you.
  3. Write a letter to your beneficiaries. The thought of discussing this in person may be overwhelming. Instead, you could choose to write a letter of intentions addressed to your loved ones. Called an ancillary document, this is kept as part of your estate plan and distributed after your death.

The importance of conveying what went into your estate plan

Of course, even with choosing one of these options or another one, there is still the possibility that someone may be unsatisfied or have hard feelings. However, estate planning is likely a process that you have invested considerable time, effort and thought into. Communicating this in some way to your loved ones can help to let them in on both how and why you came to the decisions that you did.

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