Are you ready to discuss your estate plan with your children?

January 4, 2016

Here's how to get the conversation started.

For many people, estate planning is an extremely private, and even upsetting, topic. While it can be difficult to initiate the conversation, families that are able to openly discuss these delicate issues can avoid unwanted surprises down the road. Letting your children know your intentions and reasoning about your estate will help to reduce potential family conflict and might even result in a better plan.  

Although the conversation is a crucial one, it’s not always easy to initiate. Here are a few tips and guidelines to ensure your discussion is productive.

1. Review your estate plan beforehand

It’s important to first review your estate plan on your own in order to establish key points of discussion and identify any sensitive issues. Depending on family dynamics, it might also be beneficial to consider having a series of individual talks prior to bringing everyone together.

2. Set a date for discussion

Springing such a sensitive topic on unprepared family members is rarely a good idea. Instead, pick a time and date (in a comfortable environment) so that everyone will be emotionally ready for the discussion. 

3. Explain your reasoning clearly and fully

When your children understand the principles guiding your estate decisions, there is less likelihood for potential conflict between siblings. 

4. Be flexible 

While there’s no obligation to change your estate plan, be willing to listen to your children’s concerns. Leaving the family cottage to the child who used it most might seem like a good idea. However, that child might actually view the property as a burden (or a potential source of resentment) and prefer that it be shared equally. 

To learn more about estate planning, talk to your financial advisor or visit AGF.com.

The contents of this Web site are provided for informational and educational purposes, and are not intended to provide specific individual advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax. Please consult with your own professional advisor on your particular circumstances.

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