Navigating the Emotional Discussion about Estate Planning with Your Family

January 29, 2020

Money and death are the two most difficult topics for families to discuss, but avoiding these conversations can have devastating consequences. While it might be emotional to bring up money with your children, it’s important to make sure your family understands your financial strategies including your wishes for establishing a trust. A properly structured estate plan gives you control over where your assets go and how your beneficiaries can access what is rightfully theirs. Emotionally preparing your family for trust planning will make the entire process easier for everyone in the long run.

1. Start the Conversation Early
As with all tough conversations between you and your children, it’s critical to communicate your financial values from the very beginning. Share your philosophy about money frequently to begin laying this essential foundation.  Your family will be more comfortable with a discussion about estate planning and won’t feel blindsided. If you are coming at this topic early enough, teach your young children that financial security takes planning.  Be honest with older children about how your choices will set them up for future success.

2. Speak to Each Other with Love & Respect
If you are broaching this conversation later in life and haven’t had as much time to prepare your children as you would have liked, there is still an opportunity to use this as a building block to your communication as adults. When initiating a conversation about financial planning, always be honest and considerate of how this conversation makes your child feel.  Thinking about life without you is most likely not easy for them. Financial discussions can sometimes make people uncomfortable or concerned, so try not to catch anyone off guard.

If you are an adult initiating this trust-planning conversation with your aging parents, start by stressing how important their health and happiness is to you. You are bringing this up to avoid stressful situations in the future when you might have to choose between their medical care and the resources available to you.

3. Ask for Help from Professional Estate Planners
Even if your family is a beacon of communication, discussions about financial matters can get complicated—especially when brought up during a crisis. Disputes between siblings or misunderstandings about paperwork may arise when people are ill-informed. This is where experienced Wealth Management Officers like the ones on the Texas Gulf Bank team can help. Building a relationship with your bank and letting it evolve will help your family gain trust for those who will be there to help when the worst-case scenarios happen.

Consider utilizing a fiduciary (trustee).  Held to the highest government standards, a trustee works in the best interest of the beneficiary above all else. This person will guide your family through the estate-planning process in coordination with your family attorney and tax accountant. They help mitigate conversations between family members and help you understand complex legal jargon often at the center of arguments.

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Wealth Management Department Investments include non-deposit investment products which are:

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  • Not FDIC insured
  • Not insured by any federal government agency
  • Not guaranteed by the bank
  • May decrease in value