MarketWatch.com recently featured an interesting article about the benefits that families gain by having the estate planning conversation early. Not only does it improve family relationships, it helps sets the stage and prepares family members for facing the difficult issues caused by a loved one who ages or passes away.
The article noted how a UBS Wealth Management study recently found that only 43% of affluent Americans felt that having this conversation with their heirs was a pressing issue. That’s surprising because experts predict that between now and the year 2050, the largest wealth transfer in U.S. history will occur: a whopping 30 trillion dollars.
The problem is that having this conversation is seldom easy. Who wants to sit around talking about legal and financial planning for when someone dies or becomes incapacitated? Most family members are too busy with the stress of their daily work and personal routines to worry about talking to loved ones about death and dying.
While the MarketWatch article includes a couple suggestions, there is one more that we are huge proponents of: using celebrity stories. Instead of awkwardly beginning the conversation by asking your loved ones to consider what will happen when you pass away, why not bring up Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Princess Diana, or even Elvis? These are all celebrities we have recently written about here at Trial & Heirs.
These are great ways to bring up the difficult concept in a non-invasive, non-threatening way. “Did you hear about what happened to Tom Clancy’s heirs?” is a much easier way to broach the subject than, “Want to talk about who gets my stuff after I die?”
After having a friendly conversation about the latest with your loved one’s favorite celebrity, then it’s a simple matter to turn the conversation back to your own situation and mention — “I don’t want that to happen to our family! That’s why I recently updated my will and trust.” Using this transition, it’s easy to talk about the important stuff.
Lack of communication is one of the biggest factors that sparks a family fight after a loved one dies or becomes disabled. Why not lay this concern to rest in your family, sooner rather than later, and have the estate planning conversation. We have hundreds of stories you can use to get started at Trial And Heirs.
And, if you ever find yourself in the middle of a dispute after the death of a loved one, talk to an experienced probate litigation attorney before it's too late.
Danielle and Andy Mayoras are co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and attorneys with the Michigan law firm, Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras, P.C. Click here to subscribe to their e-newsletter, The Trial & Heirs Update and learn more about their book. You can reach them at Contact@TrialAndHeirs.com.