Starting a difficult conversation


MeetingWhether you are splitting everything evenly, leaving different amounts to different children, or leaving everything to the dog, it always helps to let your beneficiaries know what you have planned so that they are prepared when the time comes. On the other end of the spectrum, it can be equally difficult to bring up the subject with someone who hasn’t planned anything, but you believe they should think about it.  Here are some tips on how to have that conversation:

  1. Don’t be distracted. While you may not want to schedule a meeting, at least choose a time when your attention won’t be divided. Take a walk, or do the dishes; don’t try to talk about your estate while American Idol is on.
  2. Don’t launch in. Talk about a friend who passed away without a will, or a friend who had a will but didn’t talk it over with their children. Use that as an icebreaker to lead into the discussion.
  3. Think about the numbers. You and your spouse may want to jointly talk to all of your children; you and your siblings may jointly want to talk to your parents. If that could be overwhelming, think about having several conversations, one-on-one.

These are not easy conversations to have, but they are much more difficult after someone has died.