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How to tell your heirs about an estate plan

Creating an estate plan is a tremendous first step for you and your family. Updating your estate plan and ensuring it covers all of the crucial areas that compose your life is even more important. But what does it all mean if you have this estate plan and your heirs and beneficiaries are upset when the details of the estate plan come to light? What if they feel slighted by the estate plan?

This raises the very important topic of communicating your estate plan to your heirs and beneficiaries. It may sound simple -- you just talk to them, right? -- but it is far more intricate than it seems.

First of all, you need to set the terms for the discussion in your head. Are you talking to your heirs simply to inform them of what your estate plan contains and how it will be executed? Or are you asking your heirs for input? Deciding this is critical as it will dictate how the discussion goes.

Once you have settled on the theme of the discussion, you need to decide on who will actually partake in the discussion. Will it be all of your heirs? Only select heirs? And how will the potential input that comes from the discussion affect how you implement your estate plan?

Last but not least, you want to make sure that you don't overburden your heirs with this conversation. That doesn't mean the discussion has to be short and snippy -- but you don't want to dive deep into every detail contained in the estate plan or explain every factor that went in to your reasoning.

Source: Agriculture.com, "Communicating an Estate Plan to Heirs," Myron Friesen, March 29, 2016

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