Estate Planning: How to Begin - 5 Tips
Starting a conversation with your loved ones (whether it be your parents, your partner, your siblings, your children, or others) about estate planning can feel overwhelming for many reasons. Here are five tips to help you begin.
Tip 1: Choose the moment to begin the conversation. Think about the person(s) you want to talk about estate planning and determine how to set both (or all) of you up to feel supported. This might mean making an appointment with advance notice. Or it might mean bringing up the topic more casually while you are doing something else - like going for a walk. Regardless, when you bring up the topic of estate planning for the first time - it's best to do it thoughtfully and with some advance planning on your (and maybe everyone's) part.
Tip 2: Use stories to get started. It's often helpful to open by talking about the experiences of others. Whether it's a celebrity who died without a will or a friend of yours has recently dealt with a death in their own family or something else - beginning this way will help both (or all) of you ease into the conversation without it feeling too personal and too scary, too fast.
Tip 3: Focus on empowerment. Estate planning is actually about making decisions for yourself and helping your loved ones know what you want so they don't have to guess when you're no longer able to speak for yourself. And estate planning puts you in control of the outcome. Without estate plan documents in place - you give your power away and allow the government's default laws to make decisions for you and your family.
Tip 4: Use your shared values as an anchor. Whether it's wanting to take care of your family, simplify your life, give back to the community, or something else - thinking about your shared values and how the estate planning allows you to focus on and celebrate those values. If/when the conversation gets tough, returning to those values as an anchor can help.
Tip 5: Progress can be measured in small steps. Estate planning is, by definition, a long game. Decisions shouldn't be made lightly as they have lasting impact. Most likely, your first conversation about this topic with your loved ones won't result in a finalized plan, but it's a start. Every conversation decision is a step towards the goal of completing your estate plan.
Want to learn more about estate planning or book an initial consultation? Contact me.
Need to learn a bit more before taking that step? You can "meet me" here and also check out the related posts linked below.