How to Discuss Your Estate Plan with Your Family

Older man with his son holding each other's hands

The holidays usually mean families spending time together. While death may not be a good conversation to have at the dinner table, a time during your family’s visit may be the right opportunity to talk about your estate plan.

If you need an estate plan created, turn to Krause Estate Planning. With more than 20 years of experience, Dan Krause has helped thousands feel assured that their wishes will be carried out after their passing. Reach out by filling out the online contact form.

Benefits and Downfall of the Conversation

There are several benefits to having a conversation with family members about an estate plan:

  • Clarification for all parties: rather than family members wondering what your wishes are you can have this conversation ahead of time to clear up any confusion. This allows you to explain why you chose to have things a certain way and any beneficiaries of the estate will know what to expect after you pass.
  • Opportunities to make potential changes: having this conversation also opens the door for any dialogue about possible changes that could be made to your estate plan. For example, if a piece of jewelry was being bequeathed to someone who didn’t want it, you would have time to make that change.
  • Preparedness for an emergency situation: in a medical emergency, you may not be able to communicate your wishes for care. By having a medical power of attorney named in your estate plan, you can be comforted knowing that a person you trust will make the best decisions on your behalf.

When it comes to having this conversation, there is one significant downfall — if you would make a loved one feel slighted or upset by your wishes. If the conversation about your wishes didn’t happen, you wouldn’t know that a loved one disagreed with what you wanted. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the estate plan is about you and how you want wishes carried out — not necessarily to make people happy.

Tips for Having the Conversation

Once you know you’re ready to have the conversation about your estate plan with others, keep these tips in mind to make the conversation less stressful.

  • Decide who you are telling and when: for some families, telling everyone at once is the best course of action. For others, having one-on-one conversations would be better. You know your family best so make a decision that will be most beneficial for you and your loved ones.
  • Be empathetic: it’s not easy to talk to family members about a life without you in it. Understand that they may feel sad or uncomfortable about the subject in general, as you might be as well. Recognize these feelings and gauge their reactions to decide how you proceed with the conversation. If the conversation becomes too overwhelming for a loved one, press pause on the talk and pick up where you left off on a different day.

After the Conversation

Even after the initial conversation about your estate plan, it’s critical to make sure that your wishes are still upheld in the following ways:

  • Make sure your loved ones are still aware of your estate plan: especially if you make any changes to your estate plan, it’s good to check in periodically with your beneficiaries or power of attorney(s) to ensure that your wishes will still be respected and that all parties involved are all still comfortable with your wishes.
  • Leave notes or instructions: where is your estate plan located? Was there anything else that didn’t necessarily need to go into the estate plan but you would still like to be known? If there are any additional notes or instructions your family needs to know about it’s important to convey that information to them sooner than later.

How Krause Estate Planning Can Help

At Krause Estate Planning, we know that having a conversation with loved ones about what’s next after you pass can be difficult. However, unlike other law firms, we solely focus on the dedication and preparation of estate plans and elder law. Experience and expertise matter when it comes to fulfilling your last wishes. See what Krause Estate Planning can do for you by calling (608) 344-5491. We serve all throughout Wisconsin including Madison, Milwaukee, Oregon, Middleton, Verona, Waunakee, Sun Prairie, and Janesville.

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