Starting the conversation about your estate planning process can be one of the most uncomfortable and emotionally fraught moments in your marriage. A couple who has always managed money together well may suddenly find they have different priorities and expectations when it comes to their ideas about how to distribute the wealth they’ve accumulated over a lifetime. How do you handle these conversations with grace and compassion for your partner and keep an uncomfortable topic from leading into a full-blown family feud? Here are our top tips for managing this delicate conversation:
- Have the Conversation Early: Bring up estate planning in your initial talks about money management at the start of your life together, especially if you are already bringing family wealth or other significant assets into a marriage. This will help give you a foundation of solid communication regarding difficult topics and get you started planning early. Starting out on the same page is the best way to make sure you stay on that page together throughout your life or make changes to your plans as a couple.
- Keep Having the Conversation Every Few Years: Checking in with each other will help maintain that solid communication and can help guide you in life choices such as major purchases and teaching your children how to manage money. If you didn’t discuss estate planning before your marriage, milestone moments such as buying your first home or having a child are a great time to pick the conversation up.
- Pay Attention to Local Laws: Even if you and your spouse have very specific plans regarding the management of your estate, these plans could be derailed if they aren’t in accordance with local laws. These laws can vary significantly at the same level and need to be monitored by you and your financial advisors to ensure your plans are in compliance.
- Speak Up When You Encounter People or Organizations Outside the Family You May Want to Include as Beneficiaries: Many couples choose to divide their assets equally amongst their children, but you are not limited to distributing your wealth this way in your estate. If you are considering including a close friend, colleague, or charitable organization in your estate planning process, let your spouse know early so you can agree on a fair and equitable plan and prevent a painful fight over your assets from breaking out following your passing.
- Bring in a Professional: Estate planning is a complex process that will require planning and updating over time as your assets and family structure change. Bringing in a financial advisor or a wealth management firm for those who qualify can help give you peace of mind that your estate is in the hands of a trusted professional who will make sure your plans are carried out according to your wishes and local tax laws. Choosing the best firm to help guide your estate planning is one of the smartest conversations you can have with your spouse early on to keep estate planning from becoming a divisive issue in your marriage so you can focus on living your best life.
Advisory Services offered through Obsidian Personal Planning Solutions, LLC. Securities are offered through Triad Advisors, member FINRA/SIPC. Obsidian Personal Planning Solutions, LLC, and Obsidian Personal Planning Solutions, Inc, are not affiliated with Triad Advisors.