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How to talk to your family about your estate plan

The ability to communicate is a vital part of any relationship. Few families that cannot talk to each other about anything, no matter how emotionally difficult, can be described as truly healthy. If we cannot come to our spouses, parents or siblings with our troubles, who can we go to?

Still, even the most emotionally open family may have trouble talking about estate planning. It is uncomfortable for most people to discuss the fact that their loved ones will not be around forever, so a lot of people put off telling their families about their plans for distributing their assets after they are gone.

Of course, virtually anybody with a family should have an estate plan. Part of creating or updating the plan is letting family members know of your plans, so that they are not surprised. This conversation also gives them a chance to voice their opinions and concerns.

As we said above, initiating this conversation can be awkward. One expert suggests choosing a time and place that is comfortable and positive. She suggests that the testator make sure everyone understands the importance of talking about the estate plan and speak candidly. The testator should also listen carefully to what their spouse and children say, and show them that they are partners in the process.

Those expecting a fight should try to give their families a bit more credit. It is possible that knowing your plans ahead of time will be a relief to your loved ones.

Next comes the actual drawing up of the will, and any trusts, if necessary. That will likely require the services of an estate planning attorney.

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