Forbes contributor Steve Parrish recently wrote about an experience at his doctor’s check-in desk. The secretary asked for all the usual information — photo identification, insurance information, date of birth, etc. But when they asked whether he has a living will in place, Steve was offended.
“I was there to be fixed up, not die — and why did they care if I had a living will anyway?” Steve writes.
Here’s the thing, though — Steve works in estate planning!
“Even to estate planners like me, estate planning can be an emotional topic,” he confesses.
It is an emotional topic. Why? Well, death is an inherently discomforting topic, and the elephant in the room during any estate planning conversation is the event that would someday trigger that plan — your passing.
More than that, though, family relations and sentimental value tend to heighten the emotion surrounding wills and trusts.
So how can you ditch the drama and focus on the future with a level head? Forbes’ advice focuses primarily on business estate planning, but we can apply their lessons to individual estate planning as well:
- Put it in writing. Don’t assume your relatives are reading your mind, and don’t rely on oral promises made long ago. Drawing up formal legal papers might seem like an intimidating tactic, but it actually tends to diffuse domestic tensions. If everyone can see the same document, there’s less room for misunderstanding or disagreement down the road.
- Bring in an objective third party. Let an experienced estate planning professional talk your family through the process and ensure that these conversations keep clear of imprecise language and common misconceptions.
If you’re ready to approach an estate plan within your family but are wary of the drama that might unfold, our experienced Valdosta estate planning lawyers can help. Contact Bennett Watson Trust, Estate & Elder Law, LLC today.