I’m often asked how to prevent family squabbles once a loved-one passes away. Surprisingly, the answer is to ensure a common understanding of the estate plan. Even an “unfair” plan, where one person doesn’t feel they are receiving their fair share, is more easily digestible if communicated correctly. Coincidentally, Holidays are a perfect time to discuss your estate plan with your family. Every family is different and every conversation will vary, but between “pass the potatoes” and “did you hear Florida’s most popular recipe search is ‘vegan gravy,'” you can save your estate thousands of dollars and years of fighting.
It’s true! The best way to prevent estate disputes is to talk about your desires and goals with your captive audience over turkey and stuffing. Here are some good topics to get started:
- Tell your family that you are working on your Will. Adult children usually appreciate knowing that their parents have taken steps to figure these things out.
- Tell your family how you’re allocating your assets. Letting the people that you love know what to expect after your death may prevent a fight. You can either let everyone know you’re dividing everything equally or let them know how you’re doing things differently. Don’t just do it, talk about it.
- Show gratitude. Talk about how you want to give back to your community, lifetime charitable giving or how you’re giving some of your estate to a favorite 501(c)(3) organization. It’s wonderful to be the anonymous philanthropist sometimes, but if you want your legacy of giving to continue, tell your children how important it is to you.
- Discuss health care documents. There’s no time like the present to make sure that the important people in your life know your end of life decisions.
- Include the next generation. If you have young children or grandchildren, it’s a good idea to talk about whether there are guardians named if the worst were to happen. The only way to name a guardian in Florida is through a valid Will.
Once you get talking, you may be surprised at how easy it is. The hardest part is starting. Happy Thanksgiving, from our family to yours!