Now that I have your attention…let’s talk about “the other talk” you should be having with your kids…your Estate Plan and your wishes.
This actually may be much harder than the “sex talk” because it is talking about you, your family, them, and a life changing event for everyone. It isn’t an easy discussion…in fact it is usually so painful for many that they don’t have it at all. That is the worst thing you can do for your family…put it off and then not get the chance to say what you want in your own words and why you are doing what you are doing.
My strong recommendation is to not let this happen…bite the bullet and have the talk. It will be much less painful than you think and it will remove a tremendous amount of anxiety…for everyone.
Here is a starting point list for you to consider as you prepare for your discussion. You can add more as you think about what you want to say but this will get you started and thinking…
- Your Assets…this one is both critical and can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be. What is it you will be passing along to your loved ones…physical things and money. You don’t have to tell everyone the amounts of anything, just what they are and what you plan to pass along. The amounts will take care of themselves later.
- Your Heirlooms…this is one that can get very emotional. But this may be the most important part for you and your family if there are lots of items your loved ones cherish and want. This is a time to start making a list and let people decide what it is they really want. If more than one wants it, have the open discussion about it and come to some resolution now…not afterwards. This will save a tremendous amount of angst for everyone.
- Your Minor Children…this is also a very emotional discussion and usually one that goes pretty well. Most of the time people know what makes sense and so it is just formalizing it and making sure it is documented in the documents.
- Responsibilities…who are the executors going to be for the different aspects of your estate planning efforts…such as the assets, kids, health care directives, etc. Let everyone know your wishes and then have a discussion…then it can be dealt with now without any hard feelings later.
- Business Agreements…if there is a family business then this needs to be discussed as well with regard to how these interests will be handled…both financially and operationally. This is a point for an entire blog post so I’ll just leave it at this on the list.
- Insurance Policies…while these may be set up in the trust documents, they are also important ones to discuss with others in how this will get distributed if they aren’t. Usually this one gets missed somewhere along the way and may end up being a surprise.
That should get you started on planning for the “other talk” you need to get scheduled today. Don’t put it off…get the date on the calendar and make it happen. I know I am being a bit forceful here but you will thank me later…it is a critical discussion and one that can create more family harmony once it is done and understood by your loved ones. As usual, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.