You’d be hard-pressed to find any family that’d rather sit around the table discussing estate plans than going out to eat, enjoying the day outside or doing just about any other activity as a family. No one likes to think about our inevitable mortality, but we all know that it is just that - inevitable. Estate planning can be an immense blessing to your family at a time of great loss. Communicating your wishes through a will or a trust makes it far easier on your heirs to settle your affairs. But getting around to putting those wishes in writing can be hard to get started on. Below are five of the most common emotional roadblocks family members face when trying to establish a successful estate plan.
Roadblock #1: Discussing Death
Talking about one’s own mortality isn’t a particularly fun thing to do, especially in the company of a partner, spouse, children, or grandchildren. But the reality is, not discussing it doesn’t keep it from happening. Instead of trying to sit down and talking about your future death with your family, try to use gentler terms like “when I’m gone” or “once you’re on your own.” Finding other, softer ways to frame it can help you and your loved ones move past the morbidity, on to thinking about the next steps and how to move forward efficiently.
Roadblock #2: Assessing Assets
In order to craft a successful estate plan, you need to account for every asset. And if you’re well-established and have lived a long life, you’ve likely accumulated quite an estate. But it can be overwhelming to think about assessing each and every account, property, car, painting, piece of jewelry and more. So overwhelming, in fact, that you find yourself putting it off altogether.
Work together with your spouse or a loved one to start two lists - financial and physical. As you think of things you own, start jotting them down into their appropriate category. Once you have a fair amount listed out, you can begin working on the next set of details - breaking down the categories into smaller, more specific subsections, listing out the price or value and thinking about who you’d like to have what.
Roadblock #3: Working With a Lawyer
This is one roadblock you may not have even realized you had - working together with a lawyer. If you’ve worked with a trusted attorney in the past, this may not be an issue for you. But for those who working with a lawyer for the first time, the search can be intimidating, nerve-wracking and confusing. Estate plans can be complex, and you need to make sure you’re drafting one up that offers tax-benefits for your loved ones and protection over the things you love.
Roadblock #4: Deciding Who Gets What
Uncomfortable truths can start to surface when you begin thinking about who should be left with what. Even happy parents and kids with no family issues need to be realistic about the future - what’s the likelihood the surviving spouse will remarry? What happens if a child dies unexpectedly? What if there’s a divorce in the family? etc. And things can get even harder to discuss for families who may be struggling with relationship issues.
Roadblock #5: Paying For an Estate Plan
Establishing a successful estate plan doesn’t come cheap. But if that’s keeping you from pushing forward in creating one, it may help to think of it as establishing a legacy for your family and leaving a gift to your beneficiaries. Taking the time to work with your financial and legal advisors now can help save your family members from tax and probate expenses or other fees associated with dividing up your property.
In addition to the financial and physical property aspects of estate planning another important thing to think about are your wishes for end-of-life healthcare. Documents to appoint a healthcare power of attorney and express your wishes concerning life support measures are usually developed at the time a will and trust are written and also make your heirs comfortable with their decisions should they become necessary.
Discussing an estate plan is no walk in the park, but it may be easier to address when you think about what it truly is - the gift of passing on a legacy in a tax-efficient manner to your loved ones. Take your time working through the emotional roadblocks discussed above and keep moving forward in developing a successful estate plan now to protect your family in the future.
At Integra Capital Advisors we include estate planning in our financial planning process to help our clients make the right decision for their family. Call us at 941-778-1900 or visit www.integracapitaladvisors.com today to set a time for a complimentary introduction meeting.