There are many practical reasons to attend to your own estate planning well in advance of when you can no longer put it off. Among the most frequently cited reasons is that by carefully planning your own estate, you save your loved ones time, money and stress.
A recent Forbes article shared another important benefit of planning your estate: reducing the likelihood of disputes and even litigation between your children. Even if family relationships have traditionally been peaceful, grief can sometimes bring out the worst in us. Siblings may quarrel over what they deem to be unfair inheritances and tensions can escalate into broken relationships and estate litigation.
There are a number of steps you can take to prevent this. The overarching theme is that you want to plan your estate very specifically and with the help of an experienced attorney. Then, you will want to communicate with both your executor and everyone in your family who will be inheriting assets from you.
You start by making a detailed list of all your assets and property and where each item or asset can be found. You’ll also want to include contact and account information for your financial institutions and insurers, as well as your attorney. Finally, you can list important online accounts and passwords for any information your heirs/executor may need to access.
When this is finished, gather your adult children together for a family meeting. Take the time to explain your estate bequests and why you made those choices. Emphasize that you tried to be as fair as possible, and account for any deviations you made from splitting things equally. Tell the family who your estate executor will be and why you chose that person.
Admittedly, this could be an uncomfortable conversation to have. No one likes to discuss their own mortality, and children (of any age) don’t like to think about their parents passing away someday. But please remember that you currently have a huge opportunity to prevent problems that you won’t have after you pass away. You can explain your decisions, answer questions and soothe hurt feelings so that your eventual passing brings the family together rather than tearing them apart.
Thorough estate planning begins with hiring the right attorney. To learn more about how our firm can help you, feel free to visit our estate planning page.