VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Managing your family’s inheritance expectations

Your estate plan is about your legacy and what you want to pass on to your friends and family. You should make the decisions based on what you want them to have, rather than what you think they expect from you.

Your family, however, may have their own expectations, even if there is no reasoning. Unfortunately, when family members create their own assumptions about your estate plan, it can mean your whole family has to deal with someone contesting the validity of your will.

Here’s what you should think about when it comes to talking to your family about your estate plan.

Having an honest conversation

When you are ready to talk to your family about your estate plan, try to include as many of the people involved in your estate plan as possible. The idea is that your family finds out from you rather than from gossip.

Alternatively, you can make time to talk to each person individually. While you risk someone finding out from another family member, everyone may appreciate that you are taking the time to speak one-on-one.

When it is time for the conversation, be kind but honest. If you have people who created their own expectations, try to inform them gently what you decided. You can be firm in your decision while still enriching your connection with your family members.

Can’t they just find out after I pass away?

Part of the difficulty with having a conversation with your loved ones about your estate is that it is a conversation that you can avoid. There is no rule or law stating that you must talk to them and explain your plan.

The biggest fear is that your family will not agree with your plan. While that is possible, talking about your estate plan before you pass away can help settle any potential disputes.

One of the biggest headaches for family members is when there is a dispute that makes the process take longer. When you talk to your family about what is in your estate plan and what they can expect, it eases the question of your wishes and intent in your estate planning documents.

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