Recently, I talked about some of the key communication items in Estate Planning between generations. It is important for beneficiaries and executors to know where to find things like the wills and estate documents, a listing of financial accounts and contact people, details of your needs and wants for funeral arrangements, and contact listings of people and organizations that need to know if you pass away.
The next step to figure out is how to bridge the communication gap that exists within families. Death, taxes and money are at the top of the list for topics that are least likely to be discussed within families.
Have a family meeting
In the business world, staff meetings or planning meetings can be very common. It may be wise to have a family meeting to discuss estate planning. Find a time when everyone can get together. Make sure there is an agenda so the conversation stays on track. Determine the important issues that need to be dealt with. Create open and honest dialogue.
Find a facilitator
If you like the family meeting approach, you may want to consider having someone outside the family to chair the meeting to make sure everyone's issues are heard and the important issues are dealt with. You can use a family friend or even someone more objective such as one of your trusted advisors.
In some cases, bringing the family together may be too difficult and impractical. Some families may not communicate well in that fashion. Regardless of the approach to communicate, it is very important to create an estate inventory.
My Estate Organizer
My two cents
Planning ahead is so important. We see far too many situations where the families argue about the smallest details at the worst possible time when everyone is emotional. Feelings of resentment and anger can surface, and tension may build at the worst possible time.
Although talking about death and money can be uncomfortable, and also frightening to many, good open communication, even the most dismal of circumstances can bring a family closer together and illustrate strength and love.