How to talk to your family about estate planning

Your estate is made up of everything that you own including your investments, checking and saving accounts, life insurance, your home and other real estate, and personal possessions such as your car, jewelry, furniture, and other valuable or sentimental items.

Estate planning involves making a plan ahead time which should include instructions for how and when you would like these things to be distributed and to whom after your death. It also includes providing instructions for your care if you become disabled and/or incapacitated before you die, the transfer of your business, if you should own one, upon your retirement, disability, or death, and naming a guardian for minor children or a family member with special needs.

Therefore, estate planning is an undertaking that involves your whole family because the decisions that you make when setting up a living trust or writing your will can have long term effects on the lives of your spouse, children, and other family members after your death. Talking to your family about estate planning may be a difficult topic, but, in the end, it’s in your family’s best interest to know about your wishes ahead of time in order to avoid conflict between potential heirs and misunderstandings after your death.

By having essential and frank conversations about your estate plan, the members of your family will understand the part that they play in the big picture. This includes discussing not only how your estate is to be divided, but also issues such as setting up a special needs trust for a disabled family members, and guardianship issues for children and special needs adults.

Here’s how to start the conversation…

In a survey undertaken by BMO Wealth Management, about 40% of the people surveyed stated that their parents hadn’t had conversations about estate planning with them. With the potential for conflict among you heirs, talking to your family about estate planning is crucial to helping you achieve your estate planning goals because you’re still in a position to answer any questions or concerns that they may have.

An estate plan starts with writing a will or establishing a living trust. A living trust can help your family to avoid probate at your death, prevent court control over your assets if you become incapacitated, provide your family with privacy, and help minimize taxes, legal fees, and court costs.

Whether or not you have a trust or have a will, your family needs to how to find your trust or will in order to lessen that chance for confusion and the time involved for settling the estate after your death.

Your family will thank you

Before talking about estate planning with your family, you have to start by making one! Statistics show that approximately 52% of Americans surveyed don’t have a living trust or will in place. The Law Office of David W. Foley, living trust attorney in San Diego, is a family owned and operated law firm that understands the issues facing clients and their families.

We specialize in creating wills and trusts as part of your estate plan. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with one our legal advisors.

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