The importance of family estate planning discussions

Oklahoma families may need to talk about estate planning because studies show that in families where estate planning is not discussed, conflict is twice as likely on the death of benefactors. While this may be a difficult conversation for some people, the consequences of avoiding it can be adverse.

Some individuals may think this conversation is unnecessary because they have made a will and assembled other estate planning documents. However, discussing those plans with family members still leads to a better outcome after the passing of the benefactor. Primarily, individuals need to explain their decisions to their family members. For example, one heir may be getting a larger inheritance due to need, or another may get less due to irresponsibility.

Lack of preparation could be another problem. Some people are not good with money, and if they do not understand the taxes and other obligations of an inheritance, it could cause problems. This may be true of property, cash, retirement accounts and more.

Many experts feel that a discussion of estate planning should be part of a lifelong money conversation parents have with children, but even families who have been more reticent about finances can have the conversation later in life. Research shows that heirs prefer their benefactors to start the conversation rather than the other way around.

Families may wish to consult with an attorney regarding estate administration and other issues. For example, a couple may have three children. One may be financially successful and good with money, another may be responsible but less financially secure and a third may be financially irresponsible. The parents may therefore wish to give the first a smaller inheritance, the second a larger one and the third one a trust with restrictions attached.

Source:, "Expensive Consequences of Not Having the Dreaded Inheritance Conversation", August 23, 2014

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