Did you know that there is something that you can do after making your estate plan that could help your family feel more at ease when the time comes to put that plan into action? Grief is an intense experience, and it can leave people feeling utterly powerless. Simply knowing that you had planned for what you would like to happen if you become incapacitated or when you die can bring some sense of order to your family and friends amongst the chaos that death or incapacity brings. However, taking the additional step of gathering the family together for a meeting about your estate plan can do even more for your family by helping them know what they can expect during those times.
While it is not wise to have a family meeting about your estate plan too early on, such as when you are just beginning to draft your will and other documents, a properly timed meeting can go a long way towards settling questions, fears, and concerns that family members may have. For some people, the idea of a family meeting about an estate plan may seem daunting because of ongoing family conflicts or problems like gambling or alcohol abuse. As tough as it may be to talk about those things, silence can often lead to more conflict and confusion when you become incapacitated or pass away, and your family is surprised to see your plans. To prevent conflict during your family meeting, it is often helpful to let people know ahead of time what is and what isn’t on the agenda. Having a clear plan for what you will discuss at your family meeting is essential to the effectiveness of the meeting. As you prepare the agenda for your family meeting, you might realize that there are items that you have not addressed in your estate plan. That’s ok. It’s better to have a meeting and give good information about what you do have in your estate plan than to put off having a meeting until your estate plan is “complete” because estate plans are always subject to change.
Stating that you would like to share information about yourself with your family members in a non-confrontational way gives you the freedom to steer conversations back to the intended purpose if family members try to argue or get the conversation off track. Many people who choose to hold a family meeting about their estate plan do not do so alone. They often include their estate planning attorney, financial advisor, and others who were involved in the creation of the plan and who may be involved in putting the plan into action at the appropriate time. In addition to those people who will help you explain the information that you plan to present, invite family members and also invite any friends who are included in your estate plan. As much as you may want to leave certain family members off of the guest list, doing so can lead to even more conflict so be sure to invite everyone to whom your estate plan is relevant.
Wichita attorney J. Joseph Weber is available to discuss your Kansas estate planning questions. Please call our office at (316) 265-7802, or contact us through our website to arrange a consultation.