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  • 2-Minute Article

Having the Legacy Talk with Your Family

Discussing your estate plan may be difficult, but the conversation can be simple. Let us help.

Your legacy is important. We believe creating an estate plan plays an important role in protecting your family and accomplishing your goals. But just as important as making a formal plan is sharing those plans with a financial advisor and loved ones so they can better understand your wishes. A financial advisor can help you identify things you may not have considered. And having a conversation with your family now can prevent confusion and make sure everyone’s on the same page for the future.

Ideally, legacy planning will be an ongoing dialogue. To help you get started, here are five essential topics to cover when you have the first conversation.

Sharing the details of your estate plan will help your family feel confident they can make the transition once they become responsible for enacting your legacy.

1. Discuss your assets and liabilities 

Start by sharing a complete picture of your assets — including cash, investments, and real estate — as well as debts. That way, everyone involved will understand the scope of your estate and potential actions they will have to take when they inherit it. 

For example, is there property that will need to be sold? Is there a trust that will require contact with a third-party trustee?

2. Organize important documents 
Assemble estate planning documents, such as your will, living will, power of attorney, trust documents, and even stock certificates. Put them in an accessible location and tell your family where they can find them.

3. Identify leadership roles
Explain to loved ones their responsibilities in making sure your estate plan is carried out per your wishes. Discuss which family members will take on the roles of power of attorney, health care proxy, and executor. 

4. Share your intentions
Although directions will be laid out in your will, take this opportunity to explain the thinking that went into your estate plan. Providing clear reasoning behind specific decisions can help others avoid questions and uncertainty after your death. It can also help you pass on family values, such as a commitment to charitable giving. 

5. Explain your protection plan
Describe the measures you’ve taken to help protect your estate. For example, you may have life insurance policies with cash value that can be tapped into in case you need expensive medical care, or policies that provide immediate cash upon your death to pay estate taxes or debts. Additionally, you may have annuities that will provide steady income to a spouse or others after your death. 

Sharing the details of your estate plan will help your family feel confident they can make the transition once they become responsible for enacting your legacy. Talk with your financial professional about how to create or update an estate plan.

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