No one wants to think about their own death or the death of a loved one, much less make plans for it. However, an uncomfortable conversation now is well worth it when you consider the time, cost, and confusion incurred by those without an estate plan in place. Bringing up this conversation, though, can be difficult. Here are five suggestions for how to do it:
- Make the attorney the bad guy. Setting up an appointment with an attorney to discuss estate planning is a good way to start the conversation. The attorney can explain all of the advantages of having an estate plan and can narrow down the exact questions that you must answer to get a plan written up. It makes the process much less overwhelming when you realize it doesn’t take much work on your part for the attorney to get everything set up the way you want it.
- Start with easy topics. You don’t have to jump right into talking about someone dying and how they want to distribute their assets. A good starting point is to talk about power of attorney documents, which set out who can help with day-to-day affairs while you’re living. Once you decide that, it’s a lot easier to move into the conversation of what happens when you’re no longer around.
- Get research. You can give a family member a brochure or a printout of research covering the advantages of having an estate plan. This gives them a chance to read over it on their own before making the decision to get started.
- Find examples of stories that didn’t go well. Telling a story about someone who had to go through a time-consuming, costly probate or who lost the majority of their assets to the cost of a nursing home can be good motivation for someone to get their own affairs in order.
- Rip off the Band-Aid. The quicker you do it, the better you’ll feel. We hear over and over again from our clients, “I put this off for way too long,” “I feel so much better now that this is taken care of,” and “This wasn’t nearly as hard as we thought it would be.”
The peace of mind from knowing your loved ones are taken care is definitely worth bringing up the conversation, even though it may be uncomfortable.