Estate planning that avoids family conflict

How intentional discussion can ease concerns

5 min read

When you first start planning your estate, you’ll realize the need to have some crucial conversations with your family members. A successful discussion will result in your loved ones having a clear idea of your intentions, your wishes and what to expect should you pass away or become incapacitated. But the topic of estate planning can get emotionally charged because it forces us to face the concept of death, as well as what will happen aer our death.

Holding an intentional discussion about estate planning with your loved ones allows you to be transparent about your future wishes, and by holding this space, you’re giving your family members the opportunity to ask questions and address any concerns. However, going into such a conversation can understandably feel stressful. You may feel uncertain about how certain loved ones may react, or if the discussion will cause conflict. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

A living trust can bring clarity and avoid complications

Before you have your estate planning discussion, you’ll want to have key pieces of your estate plan in place. One such tool is a comprehensive living trust. It’s a legal document that is used to appoint a trustee, a trustworthy individual who will manage trust assets when you are no longer available. You will fund the trust with the assets and property of your choosing, which will be distributed to your heirs when you pass away. You’ll include clear guidelines for the timing and nature in which these assets should be distributed.

What does this mean for your family discussion? By having a trust in place, you are demonstrating to your family that you’ve carefully thought out what should happen to your estate when you pass away. The decisions regarding the division of your assets and property will not be le up to the courts, nor will it be le to your family. Further, you’ve appointed a trustworthy individual to manage and oversee the process.

This will help avoid unnecessary complications in the future. It’ll also help your family feel assured that their exposure to the expensive and lengthy process of probate will be minimized. It also sends a clear signal that you have final say over what should happen to the estate and will not be le up to your family, an alternative that could lead to uncertainty and conflict.

A power of attorney and health care directive simplifies decision-making

Your power of attorney (POA) document nominates a trusted individual or entity who is authorized to step in and manage your personal affairs should you become incapacitated. Your POA can do things such as pay your bills or even run your business. A health care directive establishes your intentions for your future medical care.

Should you become incapacitated, your doctors and loved ones must refer to this document to understand your wishes and decisions regarding your health care. You can also appoint a health care proxy who will make these decisions on your behalf in line with your wishes.

Uncertainty and room for debate are common culprits that lead to family infighting. Should you become incapacitated, loved ones would have to step in and make important yet controversial decisions. This can lead to conflict if they don’t agree over these decisions. Luckily, a POA and health care directive makes your wishes known and leaves clear instructions. Further, you have the opportunity of appointing a trustworthy person to execute your wishes, leaving no room for uncertainty or debate.

Transparency is the best policy

Just because you’ve made all of your important decisions on your own, it doesn’t mean that your loved ones will always agree with them. Be sure to hold open and honest discussions with your family members about your estate plan. During this conversation, you can point out that you’ve made these decisions carefully and with the intention of relieving the stress that oen comes with challenging times.

This makes your intentions known, and removes your family from the responsibility of having to draw their own conclusions. In return, this minimizes the risk of argument and miscommunication amongst your loved ones. Although they may have questions or concerns at first, everyone will at least be on the same page regarding your wishes.

While these discussions can feel difficult at times, don’t forget that your estate plan is ultimately your decision. The purpose of having these discussions is to be transparent and give your loved ones the opportunity to discuss your decision with you while they have the chance.

Written by Staff Writer, Trust & Will

This content is presented by Trust & Will, a premier online estate planning platform.

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