If you’ve created an estate plan, you are one step ahead of half of Americans who have yet to do any estate planning at all. But there may be a crucial step that you are unknowingly neglecting, and that is communicating your wishes to your family. Since your loved ones will be affected by your plan and how it is carried out, it’s crucial to start a conversation about the reasons behind your decisions.
Many people are uncomfortable discussing financial matters and equally uncomfortable thinking about death, but opening this door can create deeper family relationships and give your family members peace of mind when you are gone. Here are four topics to discuss with your loved ones when talking about your estate plan:
1. Roles And Responsibilities
There are two valuable goals in estate planning: taking care of your surviving family and making sure your final wishes are carried out properly. To make both of these goals a reality, you will need to 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 this role.
2. 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, your family will not have a roadmap to follow and may have different ideas about what you would have wanted. If you don’t share your plans with your family ahead of time, they may be confused or surprised when the end of your life has arrived. By taking this proactive step to communicate details now, they 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.
3. 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 will give you an opportunity to communicate how important they are to you, how proud you are of them, impart words of wisdom, courage, advice, and thanks that they can hold onto 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, call us at 410-863-1040.
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Prostatis Group LLC is a registered investment adviser.