When it comes to estate planning, figuring out the best way to discuss money with your family is important. It can require a lot of courage but it can also help avoid surprises and lead to better financial planning.
Whilst there can be significant financial benefits to be had by talking about money, there are many reasons that people avoid the topic altogether. For some it can seem too private or even too morbid to discuss. Others simply find confronting the prospect of a loved one’s death to be too uncomfortable.
Some simply struggle with finding the right time to bring it up. It doesn’t exactly make for polite dinner conversation…
Let’s take a look at a few reasons why the conversation is critical:
Peace of mind
Estate planning is about much more than passing on financial assets to others. One of the most important reasons for having a well-crafted estate plan is to leave a meaningful legacy and get peace of mind that your loved ones will be looked after.
Discussing your wishes with your family can help them develop a clear understanding of your values. It’s also worth bearing in mind that, should the conversation be had in times of sickness or grief, our judgement can understandably be clouded by heightened emotions. So planning to have the conversation in advance can lead to better outcomes and remove any uncertainty as to how you envisage your legacy being carried out.
No one feels ‘left in the dark’
Being open about your estate planning can bring your family a sense of empowerment – it allows you to take control of each other’s collective future rather than leaving some elements to chance. So when the inevitable does happen, those left behind are set up to deal with the situation as best they can and the chance of any surprises can be kept to a minimum.
Protecting the wealth you’ve worked hard to build up
Of course a benefit of no one being left in the dark is that this gives your beneficiaries the chance to plan wisely. Without this chance, they are more likely to be unprepared to manage the wealth that you and perhaps earlier generations worked hard to accumulate.
Set beneficiaries up for success
On the other hand, failure to discuss your estate with your beneficiaries may lead to them being afraid to take ownership of what they have inherited. Openly discussing the assets they stand to inherit can give them the green light (so to speak) to feel like they have the right to manage it accordingly.
If they’re in a position where they aren’t comfortable taking that ownership, they may be afraid to make any changes to portfolio. Or, alternatively, they could end up making decisions based on erroneous ideas of what you would have wanted. The value of investments can go down as well as up so eventually, this could lead to an outdated portfolio and missed growth opportunities.
How to get the ball rolling on awkward conversations about money
Every family is different and so there is no one right way to have these conversations, however, here are a few suggestions to help guide you:
• Pick a positive, comfortable environment during a period of relative calm. Don’t wait until a time of crisis when it may be too late to make adequate plans and family members may not feel emotionally able to talk.
• Be sincere about your intentions. Be clear that you are initiating these talks out of concern that proper plans are in place and are understood.
• Stress the importance and benefits of this conversation to everyone affected. One way to do this is to show an example of an estate that was improperly handled because family members had failed to discuss their plans with each other.
• Plan ahead. It always helps to have a robust plan for your estate before broaching these conversations with your family. Being clear on your view of what should happen with your estate can make it easier to discuss with your loved ones.
If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to estate planning a financial planner could help. Not only can they help you map out your wishes, having a third party involved can help the younger generation understand the financial situation that they stand to inherit. Furthermore, involving beneficiaries in conversations with your financial planner can help to educate them. Read our previous blog for more information on family financial planning or speak to your 1825 Financial Planner today. If you don’t have a financial planner you can book an initial consultation to discuss your needs.
The information in this blog or any response to comments should not be regarded as financial advice. Pensions are investments which can go up or down, and may be worth less than you paid in. Tax laws and rules may change in the future, this article is based on our understanding in September 2018.