If you are like most people, sitting down and thinking about your own death or incapacity was difficult enough, though it was necessary in order to create your comprehensive estate plan. The idea of sitting down once again and discussing that plan with loved ones may not sound all that appealing; however, there are several reasons why it is a good idea to do so. If you have decided to share your estate plan with interested parties, consider the following tips on how to start a discussion about your estate plan with loved ones:
- Decide how much to share– there is no legal requirement that you share any of your estate plans nor is there an accepted societal norm with regard to sharing estate planning decisions. You may share as much detail as you wish or as little as you wish. The important thing is to decide ahead of time how much you plan to divulge before the meeting with your loved ones.
- Prepare documents – if you plan to provide copies of any documents, such as your Last Will and Testament, Life insurance policies, or trust agreements, be sure to make copies ahead of time. At the very least you should give your Executor an original copy of your Will and give any Trustees copies of trust agreements.
- Choose the location carefully – you know your family and loved ones better than anyone. If you anticipate a negative reaction to your plans you may wish to meet at a neutral place where people might think twice about letting their emotions get the better of them, such as your attorney’s office. On the other hand, your family home might make people feel safe and secure and more comfortable discussing such a sensitive subject. The point is that some type of emotional reaction is likely so try and plan the location of the meeting according to the reactions you anticipate.
- Be prepared for questions – you are certainly not required to explain or justify any of the decisions you made in your estate plan; however, answering questions now may decrease the likelihood of challenges to your estate plan during the probate of your estate.
- Have your attorney on hand if possible – having your attorney present accomplishes several goals. First, he or she may be able to answer legal questions you are unable to answer. Second, the presence of your attorney may help keep the peace if people are unhappy with the terms of your plan. Finally, having your attorney present when you discuss the terms of your Will or other estate planning documents helps make it clear that you were of “sound mind” and not under any “undue influence” should a claim to the contrary ever be made down the road.
If you have additional questions or concerns about how to handle a discussion about your estate plan, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.