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Talking to your family about your estate plan

We frequently write about the importance of creating an estate plan. An estate plan allows you to make your wishes about medical care, guardianship of your minor children and property known. Once these wishes are drafted in a legally enforceable way, they will generally remain protected and respected.

Some individuals draft their wills, powers of attorney and other estate planning documents and simply lock them away. However, many individuals opt to discuss their estate planning wishes with their loved ones. This approach is arguably advantageous because it allows your loved ones the ability to ask you questions and clarify their understanding. It also ensures that your loved ones know that an estate plan is in place in the event of your death or incapacitation.

Talking to your loved ones about your estate plan can be difficult. Chances are that at least one of your loved ones will take issue with some provision or provisions of your estate plan. As a result, it is important to explain to your loved ones why you want them to know about your estate plan and that the structure of it is not intended to hurt or offend any of them. You can let them know that you constructed your estate plan with your values in mind and that it was constructed to the best of your ability.

There is no one “right” way to talk to your family about your estate plan. However, if you are respectful and honest, hopefully your efforts will be as well received as possible.

Source: The Week, “6 tips for navigating the estate-planning talk,” Sheryl Nance-Nash, Dec. 8, 2014

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