Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss Your Will With Your Family

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss Your Will With Your Family

Creating a will is extremely important, as it designates exactly where your assets will go and who will manage them upon your death. Regardless of your current age or health, creating a will is something that everyone should do when they have a chance. However, putting together your will can result in some difficult conversations with your loved ones. After all, no one wants to think about death, and on top of that, the division of assets in a will can cause tension between even the most loving and close-knit of families. Here are some tips to help you talk about your will with your family in a way that is positive and effective.

Stay positive and proactive.
When broaching the topic of a will, it is common for many people to try and change the subject, particularly those who are very close to you, such as your spouse, your children, your siblings, or your parents. When discussing your decision to write a will, don’t start off the conversation too seriously. Take a casual tone, and explain to everyone that you are creating this will to be proactive and stay organized. Framing this in a tone of responsibility helps others become more comfortable with it.

Stick to the task at hand.
Even if it’s somewhat relevant, avoid bringing up upsetting topics such as illnesses or accidents that could make others highly uncomfortable and lead to a tense discussion. If someone else in the discussion brings it up, politely ease their mind by telling them that this is not why you are creating the will right now, and go back to the important talking points that you need to discuss. If you seem cool and collected, then others will be as well.

Be gracious and explain your decisions.
There are likely to be some instances when more than one person is interested in inheriting an asset of yours. This is something you should discuss with these people when you make the decision so that they understand why. Keep in mind that this is a very sensitive situation, and go into the conversation prepared to explain your decision rationally. If you can show your loved ones exactly why one child is the most prepared to take over a business, inherit a property, or even adopt a family pet, they’ll be much more accepting of it in the long run.

Look to your executor or your lawyer for help.
If you can’t stand the idea of facing this difficult conversation on your own, that’s okay. There are plenty of people you can turn to for help in this situation, most notably your executor or the lawyer who helped you create your will, if you have one. Sit down with this person as well as all of your beneficiaries. Although this may make the conversation seem a bit more official or serious at first, it can actually have the opposite effect of making it very matter of fact and easier to digest for your beneficiaries. Your lawyer has likely had similar conversations thousands of times before, so they’ll know exactly where to start, what things need to be tackled during the conversation, and what topics to avoid.

When talking about your will with your loved ones, know that you are not alone – virtually everyone feels uncomfortable thinking about the idea of their own death. However, the conversation gets much easier when you think of it as being proactive and responsible. Your family and friends will feel much more at ease knowing exactly what they are going to receive from your will and why.

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