While most families are open about all kinds of topics, they are reluctant to talk about some subjects, such as being death and money. For all adults – parents and children, death is a sensitive matter and is not discussed until it is visibly unavoidable. Another issue of concern is privacy around financial matters.

That being said, families must strive to overcome this discomfort and converse about possible deaths and transfer of assets. Here are some tips on how families can get started without any awkwardness creeping in the way.


Why converse?

When it comes to estate planning, a sensitive and transparent conversation between family members can go a long way. For instance, the parent may wish to have a specific survivor to manage their assets, but in reality, has no idea whether the person would be comfortable doing so. Having a heart-to-heart conversation in this regard will help the parents’ perspective.

Furthermore, survivors also may have a desire to know what plans you have for your assets and estate and will appreciate knowing them from parents directly – while they are still living. Additionally, the scope of misunderstanding and conflict will reduce if there are multiple beneficiaries.

When estate plans have not been adequately drafted and/or communicated, it may also lead to a possibly dramatic reduction in the amount that the beneficiaries.

Last but not the least, survivors may take drastic actions based on the deceased’s wishes, if the latter is not communicated to them in time. Not only does this cause a waste of vital money, it is also an inconvenience in terms of time and energy on the part of the survivor – not to mention missed growth opportunities and outdated portfolio.


The benefits of dialogue:

Having an open dialogue on estate planning brings several benefits to both the adult parents and the adult children. These include the following (among many others):

– Conversations can prove to be very effective if the beneficiaries extend beyond the main household

– Adult children can know what the intention of parents are about their estate, and will know what to do should they pass away or become incapacitated

– In case the children are minors, the appointed interim guardians will have a clear picture of the parents’ plan (as will the children themselves)

– Parents will have the piece of knowing that their descendants (which may sometimes span their nieces, nephews, grandchildren or any extended family members) know about their plans, and any of them who will face responsibility of managing the same will be comfortable doing so.

– The family as a whole will gain a sense of empowerment, armed with sound knowledge and good control over their collective future.


Starting the conversation:

While this conversation is important, it is admittedly difficult to begin. While there is no one specific way or “format” to starting the discussion, one parents try any one of the following ways:

– Start the conversation during a peaceful time in life. It is best to not wait to speak till a crisis occurs, or worse, when the parents are deceased or incapacitated

– Let your survivors know that you mean well, and are sincere about your intentions, and that they understand your intentions fully.

– Encourage an open conversion – let your survivors speak-up if they feel that something is incorrect. Not only will this will make them comfortable, it will help parents update their plans, if needed.