Talking to Your Family About Your Estate Plan During the Holidays

With the holiday season in full swing, there is probably no better time to have a family meeting with your children and other loved ones about your estate plan. While discussing this topic is not necessarily a comfortable one for you and your loved ones, it is a discussion that can prevent future conflict among family members.

 

Often, people do not make their intentions about their estate plans clear to their families, which could result in costly, time-consuming conflict. Also, families often do not understand or share the wealth management visions of those who precede them, sometimes resulting in asset dissipation upon inheritance.

 

Both of these issues can be prevented through honest communication with your family now. Having most, if not all, immediate family members under one roof during the holidays creates the perfect opportunity to have a conversation with your loved ones about your estate plan.

 

However, you should let your loved ones know in advance of your intent to have this conversation to avoid surprising them with a conversation that can be characterized as morbid during a time that is supposed to be festive and cheerful.

Why it’s important to talk to your family

Passing along our wealth is a wonderful privilege; however, working with your heirs early can help pass along the values of work ethic and generosity that enabled you to acquire and grow that wealth. Too many fortunes built by one generation are lost by the next, not due to bad luck or the Internal Revenue Service, but due to a lack of understanding of wealth management and preservation.

Also, when your family doesn’t appreciate the rationale behind your estate planning choices—like the use of lifetime trusts—this lack of understanding can lead to conflict and resentment among family members. In a worst case scenario, your heirs end up suing one another. No one relishes the idea of family being torn apart over antiques, heirlooms, or who gets the beach house. Nevertheless, it happens far more often than anyone cares to admit.

 

Part 1 of 4 - Holiday Estate Planning