If your looking to find the best way to speak to your family about your wishes, will, assets or trust upon you’re death, plan for it!
In this article we are going to discuss some interesting statistics about wills and estate plans as it pertains to your loved ones documents. We’re going to cover some questions you should ask yourself before speaking to your loved ones, what information you should share with them and how to approach your family about your wishes, will, trust, assets, and overall estate.
We all know there will never be a perfect time to sit down with any one person in your family and say “if I die, my will is in my desk”, or “you and your brother have to split my jewelry”. Actually, to be honest and fair to your family you should never put any one of them in a situation where they must “fight” over your possessions or assets. Although it may be tough on you to make that decision, it should be made by you so that your family can grieve for you and not fight about your wishes, will or assets after you pass.
There is nothing more stressful when a grieving child or other loved family member is trying to find your documents about your wishes. If you’ve never been put into a situation where you have to ransack your mothers, grandmothers or other family member’s house to find important documents, it is not something that a grieving family member should ever have to go through.
A survey of 1,000 adults from March 5th through the 8th, 2015 Princeton Survey Research Associates International and provided to caring.com as well as published by the Chicago Tribune shows some very shocking statistics about their elderly parents. They have a stark warning for you and your family members:
From this survey they estimate that 55.4% of parents actually do have a will or trust document somewhere, 26.7% said no they do not and shockingly enough 15.8% didn’t even know if their parents had any estate documents at all.
Ironically, 58% of those 1,000 adults had no clue what may be in those documents. These documents may include a list of your assets, wishes and other things that are of value to the you now and after you’ve passed.
When was the will or living trust updated? 24% didn’t know when it was last updated, 19% less than a year ago and 40% were updated 1 – 5 years ago.
This last statistic about when a will or trust was last updated was actually a little interesting because your assets change, your wishes may have changed and other things in your life may have changed and although your living trust may have had a pour-over will to help address these changes, a typical will may have missed this. If you do have an existing living trust or will and it has been some time since you’ve updated either one of those, you may want to take some time to reach out to your attorney to go over these documents for you. If you are in the Phoenix Metropolitan area, give our firm a call at (602) 262-4357, we offer FREE consultations to discuss what documents you have.
Wondering what a living trust is or what we include in our living trust packages? Head on over to that portion of our website to learn more!
So, how do I approach my family about my wishes, my assets, my will or my estate?
Actually, there can be a few things that will help you and them before you ever think about speaking to your loved ones.
First and most importantly is to be and stay organized! The best advice we could give you is to write everything down. Write down a list of all assets, what you have and the location of these assets. Write down your funeral wishes, where you want to be buried, who your attorney is, who do you want to be at your funeral, your investments, trust documents, savings, real estate, loans, debt, online accounts, online assets and well… you get the point here.
If you choose to hire our law firm to help you with your estate planning, last will and testament and overall wishes, we will provide to you our “Asset Inventory, a guide for survivors”. This is a 16+ page document that helps you and your spouse organize your assets for your family. Our estate planning attorneys will also prepare a special estate planning binder with all of your documents so that everything is together. We offer FREE consultations, so call us, schedule your FREE consult at either one of our Scottsdale or Peoria, Arizona offices and let us help you with your asset protection or estate planning needs. Call us today at: (602) 262-4357 or contact us to schedule FREE consultation online!
Secondly, keep your stuff up to date. It can be easy to forget about your assets, will or estate, but the problem is that life changes. Things may get worse, or they may get much better. Whichever way your life turns out, it’s always best to keep documents such as these updated. You can rest easily knowing that if you pass away, your family now knows what you knew and can ensure things are taken care of as laid out in your wishes.
Lastly, once you’re completely finished with this document, make copies of it and hand it to your family members. Have a meeting with them, invite them to dinner and simply provide them this documentation. Let them soak in the information and if at a later day or time they have questions, get them together again and go over the information.
You see, you’ve actually done a few things here, one, you are spending time with your loved ones and two you are ensuring that you’ve provided your loved ones a solid plan about your assets and wishes after you’ve passed away.
What makes us hesitate to discuss these things with our loved ones? Is it that your loved ones do not want to hear about these things?
It can be tough to listen to, but you can make it much easier on everyone involved. Upon your passing your loved ones can focus on grieving you, and less time focusing on trying to find your will, trust or other miscellaneous documents. None of children or other family members should be fighting over whatever it may be that they could be fighting over.
We’d like to provide you some questions you may want to ask yourself before sitting down for that inevitable chat about your wishes, assets, will and estate:
Who should I talk to about my wishes and documents?
How do I think my loved ones will react to this conversation?
Who will be the best person to start this conversation with?
What are my biggest concerns?
What will be their biggest concerns?
What are my highest priorities?
What is the most positive thing to come out of this conversation?
Will my loved ones react negatively? If so, how are ways that I can help them with this difficult discussion?
If support is needed from my loved one, what are they willing to provide?
Being prepared with these simple questions and answering them yourself may help you better prepare for these discussions when the time comes.
How do I approach my family about such a difficult topic like my passing, my wishes, my estate and my trust and/or will?
We’ve discussed specific questions that you can actually answer yourself to help get you on the right track about speaking to your family. We then talked about some of the primary things that each person should consider when discussing these things with their family, but…
Now, lets discuss how you could specifically approach your family about your wishes:
If at all possible, do not hide negative information: Let your family know about your health and be straightforward. If your loved ones know about your health they can do their best to possibly help you in your time of need. If you are going into surgery, but do not want others to know, at the very least, inform those who you’ve listed in your estate plan (Trustee) or will (Executor). You’ve listed them for a reason.
Phrase your concerns in question format (if applicable): “Dianne, would you mind sitting down with me and working on this estate plan with me?” Sometimes, getting others involved can help you and your family work together through tough issues that you finding hard to make on your own.
Ask more questions: You wouldn’t have ever guessed that your daughter really loved your typewriter that’s collected dust over the years and has fond memories of it from her childhood. Although it may be a small afterthought, you’re involving your family or just a few of your closest family members in decisions and to boot you may be “breaking the ice” as well. You are also giving your loved ones an opportunity to have their own special memento that reminds them of you the most. We’re sure you’ve heard “one mans trash, is another mans treasure”, this is the perfect opportunity to point out the value of this saying.
Ask about their concerns: Sometimes knowing what your family may have concerns about may actually help you build a more solid plan. Are they worried about your debts? Maybe that lakefront property that no one has visited in 15 years? If your family has concerns, talking to them and asking them questions could help resolve some unforeseen issues in the future.
You could start the conversation as such: “Thank you for being here and I understand that this type of conversation is difficult, it is for me too. I wanted to discuss some of your concerns about what happens to my assets (debts, etc.) upon my death. I want you to know that I have a plan that will help all of you when this time comes. Here is my estate planning binder with everything that you would need to know about my wishes and assets…”
Is there a certain age that I should be to discuss my wishes with my family?
The short answer is, no. There is never a specific age that you should take the time to speak to your family about your will, estate or really anything about your wishes upon your passing. Unfortunately accidents happen, and it would be a shame for you to put the unnecessary burden on your family if you have a clear picture of your wishes and intentions of your assets after you have passed away. If you are over the age of 18 and you have time to make an appointment with your attorney, than go for it!
We’ve really only touched the lower tip of the iceberg as far as ensuring that your family is prepared upon your death, but we know that this information can help open the door to get your mind going. No matter your age or your circumstances it is imperative that you have a plan, it is imperative that you speak to your family and loved ones about your wishes and it is also imperative that others know about your wishes. Know someone that this article may speak to? Go ahead, share it with them!
At the Wesbrooks Law Firm, we handle these types of plans from asset protection, to estate planning, from wills to probate. We can help you with your last will and testament, transfer property or even look at your current will or estate plan to ensure that you have yourself and your family covered if in the event that you do pass away. Let your family know about your wishes, contact us today via our online form or give us a call at (602) 262-4357 for your FREE consultation today!