For years, Patrick Severo didn’t understand why people were so reluctant to talk about estate planning. Then the 55-year-old father of three went through the process himself. “Speaking about death and what’s going to happen once you’re gone are unpleasant topics that people just naturally want to avoid,” says Severo, senior vice president and financial advisor at RBC Wealth Management. “But the sooner you begin thinking about it, the better.”
While estate planning can be a stressful and emotionally-charged topic, it can also be a lengthy process. A recent Forbes article, titled “Don't Let Emotion Sabotage Your Estate Plan,”emphasizes that establishing a detailed plan can take anywhere from six months to two years, so it’s never too soon to get started!
Here are some ideas to push past the emotional aspects of estate planning to make sure your surviving family members can successfully deal with issues that may arise after you pass away.
To help the people you care about handle the financial, administrative and familial consequences of your eventual passing, be as transparent as possible about what they can expect from your estate. Mismatched expectations can often cause trouble that could’ve easily been avoided if the news wasn’t coming as such a surprise.
An inheritance can be life-changing, so it’s important to discuss it with your loved ones upfront so they can be mentally, emotionally, and financially prepared.
Discussing your estate plans with your loved ones can also help eliminate some potentially difficult situations, like when one sibling is inheriting more than another. Hopefully the family members receiving less will be okay as long as they are forewarned.
A good estate plan can become outdated or irrelevant easily, “if it sits on a shelf.” A three-year time line for estate planning is a good rule. This means a regular review of your trust to make sure it accurately reflects your current situation and your wishes.
Being very transparent about what your beneficiaries may receive from your estate can help ensure that the dispersal of your estate goes smoothly, and your wishes are successfully fulfilled.
Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help guide you through this process.
Reference: Forbes (May 15, 2015) “Don't Let Emotion Sabotage Your Estate Plan”