Family Communication: Part of a successful estate plan

We all hope that the money we pass along to family and loved ones will bless their lives. We may hope the money will allow them to flourish and find meaningful work.  Or, we may hope the money will allow them to grow their own financial success, perhaps allowing them to purchase a family home, seek an education, or start a business.

However, studies show that merely creating an estate plan that provides for our loved ones may not be enough.  Rather, communicating with loved ones about money, the estate plan, and our personal values, allows our loved ones to prepare and gain an understanding of what the hopes and values were that led to our decision-making. Without those conversations, an unexpected or sudden transfer of money, property, or family heirlooms, can lead to family strain following the death of a parent or grandparent.

Unfortunately, many people find discussing money difficult.  A 2014 survey* showed that among Americans, 36% indicated they were uncomfortable talking about money and 18% indicated that money was a taboo subject in their families.   

So where do you start?  A family meeting or individual conversations with adult children or other loved ones about the estate plan, the values you hold around money — such as spending, saving, the value of meaningful work, and charitable giving–may be a good place to start. It’s refreshing to know that often these conversations create a sense of connectedness and harmony among family members. By simply sitting down to talk,  loved ones can understand what you hope to accomplish with your estate plans and how you hope an inheritance will bless them rather than burden them.

If you are interested in learning more about successful wealth transfers and preparing loved ones for carrying out your estate plan, you might check out Preparing Heirs: Five Steps to a Successful Transition of Family Wealth and Values by Roy Williams & Vic Preisser, While the book focuses primarily on the wealthy, many of the topics the book addresses apply to any family that wishes to enhance family harmony in preparing for and following the transfer of family assets.

Please contact us for a free initial consultation if you need to plan your estate or update an existing estate plan.  

Phone: 503-639-6176 or Email:


*American Psychological Association’s 2014 Stress in America Survey.


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