How to Talk to Your Family About Your Estate Plan

March 17, 2022
How to talk to your family about estate plan

By Kimberly Quinn, CFP®

The 2019 film Knives Out is a whodunit about a wealthy man who suddenly dies when he is given a lethal dose of the wrong medication by his nurse. His children and grandchildren, an ensemble of very eccentric characters, begin to argue over who is the new owner of his home, his business, and other assets. When a lawyer reads the will, they find out the wealthy man had left all his assets to his nurse. 

While this movie is an exaggerated example of a will reading turning ugly, telling your loved ones what you plan to do with your estate before you die is an important step you should take to ease any tension after you pass.

If you already have an estate plan, congratulations! You are already ahead of the 54% of Americans who do not have a written will that describes how they would like their money and estate to be handled after their death. (1) Creating the plan is only the first step; telling your loved ones how they will be affected by your plan and the reasoning behind your decisions is an equally important step to bring clarity and comfort to your family. 

Roles and Responsibilities

There are two valuable goals in estate planning: taking care of your surviving family and making sure your final wishes are properly carried out. To make both goals a reality, you should assign family members to specific roles and find out what they are comfortable with. You may need an executor, durable power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney. In some cases, one person may serve in all three positions, or you may assign each task to a different person, depending on their strengths or your preferences. 

You want to ensure that the people you choose for these roles are organized, financially savvy, and willing to take on such a critical task. The last thing you want to do is drop these responsibilities on your heirs in a time of stress or grief. Talk to them about it ahead of time, being clear about what you expect and why you chose them for their role.

Your Wishes and Values

Creating an estate plan gives you control over how your estate is taken care of when you pass away. If you don’t communicate your wishes or share your plans with family ahead of time, at the time of your death, they may be confused. And without a road map to follow, they may have different ideas about what you would have wanted. By taking the proactive step to communicate details now, your family will understand exactly what you want and the values that influenced your decisions. 

This is especially true when it comes to end-of-life choices and financial matters. Make sure you are all on the same page so your family can carry out your final wishes with ease in a time of great grief and stress. 

Your Legacy

How do you want to be remembered? What aspects of your life do you want to imprint on future generations? Having a transparent dialogue with your family gives you an opportunity to communicate how important they are to you and how proud you are of them, impart words of wisdom, courage, advice, and express thanks that they can hold on to for the rest of their life. Your family members will have many memories of you, but this is your chance to reiterate what you want for them and the values you want them to embrace in their lives. Your words will have a lasting impact on your children and future generations, even more than what you leave in your will.

Let Us Guide You

Don’t be intimidated by the heavy emotions involved in this type of conversation. In the end, your honesty and openness will be some of the greatest gifts you can leave your family members. If you need to work on your estate plan or have questions about the best way to get your family involved in the process, you can schedule a call by reaching out to us at (617) 610-0587 or emailing info@cim.financial.

About Kim

Kimberly Quinn is co-owner and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional at Catalyst Investment Management, an independent firm dedicated to providing personalized financial advice and planning. With over 30 years of experience, Kim is passionate about developing long-term relationships with her clients so she can provide them with customized solutions that make the most impact on their lives. Kim specializes in serving business owners and pre-retirees and post-retirees who desire a road map to their ideal retirement and women who are recently divorced or in the process of getting a divorce. Every client of Kim’s receives her utmost dedication and attention as they work toward their goals. She graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and spent much of her career prior to CIM at Charles Schwab, where she held various roles, including financial planner, vice president, and financial consultant. Outside of work, Kim loves spending time with her two teenage children, cooking, and staying active by running and skiing. Learn more about Kim by connecting with her on LinkedIn.

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(1) https://news.gallup.com/poll/351500/how-many-americans-have-will.aspx

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