In the first installment of this two-part series, we talked about how, in addition to…
Every adult and, by extension, every family needs an estate plan. Not only is attending to this essential task a cornerstone of healthy financial planning, but it is also a safeguard that ensures both you and your loved ones are protected from unforeseen tragedy. Despite this necessity, less than half of U.S. adults have attended to organizing their estate and the overwhelming reason is the discomfort that often attends the subject. If approached thoughtfully, estate planning need not be a driver of anxiety and family tension, however—especially if you keep the following three tips in mind when initiating a conversation with loved ones.
1. Frame the Matter as an Investment in Peace of Mind
The tangible benefits of estate planning include avoiding tax liabilities and ensuring the seamless transfer of your assets. This said the greatest benefit may be the peace of mind a robust plan provides you and your loved ones. When sitting down with the family to talk about your estate planning aims, let money take secondary importance to the well-being of all involved.
Estate planning conversations often start in one of two ways: either adult children see their parents aging and wish to take a proactive stance on ensuring end-of-life decisions are in order or, conversely, aging parents face the fact of their own mortality and want to ensure children understand their decisions concerning the distribution of assets. In either scenario, tensions are wanting to erupt unless a desire for harmony takes a central role in framing the conversation.
While achieving this is no more complex than thinking carefully about how you will broach the many topics involved in addressing your family’s estate plan, it always helps to seek counsel from an estate planning attorney who can draw on their depth of experience to tell you what has (or hasn’t) worked for clients in the past.
2. Prioritize Transparency and Openness
An open mind and transparent communication are your strongest assets in ensuring estate planning develops instead of hinders harmony within the family. Share your concerns with unfettered honestly and encourage your loved ones to do the same. Articulate your desires and expectations clearly and seek to meet worry or frustration with compassionate understanding.
Estate planning involves such delicate decisions as selecting executors and trustees, determining who will receive sentimental items, and, sometimes, placing restrictions on inheritances given beneficiaries’ worrying financial or lifestyle habits. Talking through this is never easy but the burden is far lighter when paired with honest intent and careful listening.
3. Seek Experienced Counsel
As suggested above, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you avoid pitfalls that have plagued others and ensure you do not overlook crucial details. This is especially important where selecting beneficiaries is concerned as your decisions carry not only sentimental liability but tax liability as well. A good lawyer will not only see to it that your choices carry no untoward surprises, but they will also work with you to review your plan at periodic intervals and advise you of any legislative changes that may necessitate adjustments in strategy.
If you are thinking about beginning the estate planning process—as every adult should—do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm either by calling 417-623-2062 or using the contact form on our website.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm