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How to Avoid Family Conflict When Estate Planning

In this guide, we’ve included some helpful tips for how to avoid family conflict when having the estate planning conversation.

For many who are ready to embark on the journey into Estate Planning, the task can appear to be a daunting one. After all, Estate Planning forces us to engage in serious, and oftentimes emotional discussions that none of us wish we had to have.

And yet, coming to grips with our mortality, sooner rather than later, can be one of the best things you can do to protect your loved ones and your Estate.  For some, the anticipation of addressing their Estate Plan may be stressful. The uncertainty of others' reactions to how you wish to handle your Estate, may be cause you to avoid getting started on your plan. 

However, creating an Estate Plan and discussing it with your loved ones can be beneficial as it will give everyone a clear idea of what to expect, and help to avoid conflicts between your family members after you pass. 

With an Estate Plan, you are able to create a detailed legal plan for your assets, healthcare, finances, guardianship and more. An Estate Plan can ensure your wishes are legally documented so they may be carried out as you intended.

Discussing your Estate Plan with your family might feel awkward and uncomfortable, but having the discussion sooner rather than later can alleviate some of the emotional pressure that comes with bringing up one's mortality.

Trust & Will, a leader in online Estate Planning, wants to make it easier for you to get started on your customized Estate Plan. We have put together some tips to help you avoid family conflicts when discussing your Estate Plan with your loved ones. 

Tips to Avoid Family Conflict When Estate Planning

Talking about Estate Planning with family can feel like an insurmountable task, as it is not often a favored topic of conversation, and there is so little advice on how to approach the subject. However, having an Estate Plan and discussing it with your family is in your best interest because it allows you to plan for the unknown and avoid future conflicts between your loved ones.

Create a comprehensive Living Trust

The first step you will want to take to help avoid family arguments is to create a Living Trust, which is a legal document that assigns someone you choose to be responsible for your assets when you can no longer.  This appointee is called a Trustee. If you choose not to create a Living Trust, or appoint a Trustee, it is more likely that your family members could end up in unnecessary legal debate over who will be responsible for your assets. Furthermore, the matter will have to be decided by the courts, which will unfortunately come with hefty legal fees and lengthy wait times for court dates. However, by creating a detailed Living Trust now, you will have the final say as to how you want your Estate Matters handled.

It will also be important to always keep your Living Trust up to date, accounting for new assets as they are acquired. For example, you may buy new real estate or purchase a new car, which you will want to include in your Living Trust. This will help avoid unnecessary complications in the future.

Choose a Trustee/Powers of Attorney/Healthcare Directive

After you have decided what assets to include within your Living Trust, you will want to choose someone to be your Trustee. Additionally, as you create a more comprehensive Estate Plan, you will want to appoint a financial Power of Attorney to put in charge of your finances. and a Healthcare Directive that will ensure your healthcare wishes are carried out as you wish. You will want to give careful thought and consideration to who you choose for each of these responsibilities as they will be important roles in your life if you cannot make decisions for yourself. 

By appointing trusted individuals to these roles, you can minimize the chances of family conflicts, as there will be no debate over your intentions, they will already be known, and the designee of your choosing will be legally recognized as the one responsible for following your financial, health, and end-of-life directives. By choosing carefully, you can also ensure that the person entrusted with this role is a good mediator within your family and able to alleviate potential discourse before it arises.

Have an open and honest discussion with all family members

After you feel confident in your Estate Plan and the decisions you have made, it will be important to have an honest discussion about your choices with all family members present. By sitting down with your family together, you will have the opportunity to explain your decisions thoroughly to everyone. This is often an overlooked part of the Estate Planning process and can be a cause for conflict among family members after your death. By leaving family in the dark on what your plans are, they may draw their own conclusions on what your intentions you had for your Estate. These ideas can often be way off base. However, if you make your plans known, there will be no miscommunication or room for argument among family about your Estate Plan. Everyone will be in the loop from the get go.

Although it is beneficial to have an open discussion with your family on your Estate Plan, it is just as important to remember to stick to what you feel is right for your Estate Plan. It is possible your family may try to persuade you to change parts of your plan in a way that would make you uncomfortable. In these situations, it is wise to remind yourself and your family that your Estate Plan is ultimately YOUR decision.

Discussing your Estate Plan with your family members can feel stressful enough on its own without also having to worry about figuring out the best Estate Plan for you. Trust & Will wants to alleviate some of these difficulties by making Estate Planning simpler and faster. With our customized online Estate Planning services, you can create a Trust-Based Estate Plan, a Will, and Guardianship documents all from the comfort of your own home. We are committed to making Estate Planning more accessible and affordable to you. Visit our website today to learn more!