The Importance of Communication in Estate Planning

Signing or not signing?

Estate planning should be a financial priority at virtually stage of a person's life. Estate planning ensures your assets are distributed per your wishes when you pass, whether given to your children and other family members, donated to charity, or sold at auction. Without an estate plan, the distribution of your assets will be determined by the estate. Organization your estate and related affairs also prevents leaving your family with unresolved or difficult questions, should you pass unexpectedly or be unable to communicate your wishes.

Despite the vast importance of a will, a recent survey found 64% of Americans don't have one. Of those without a will, about 27% said there isn't an urgent need to make one, and 15% said they don't need one at all. Many people believe only those will multi-million dollar estates need a will. Many others avoid estate planning because they don't want to think about death.

Also problematic is this— people who have created a will fail to communicate their estate plan with their family. According to the 2016 Fidelity Investments Family & Finance Study:

  • 92% of surveyed parents expect one of their children to be the executor of their estate, while 27% of the kids identified as filling this role didn't know this.
  • Three out of 10 families surveyed disagreed whether or not the children knew where to find important family documents, such as the will.
  • 69% of surveyed parents said they had detailed conversations with their children about wills and estate planning, but more than half (52%) of kids said they haven't had those discussions.

It's important for families to have thorough in-person conversations about estate planning. These conversations ensure your desires are understood by family members and that your loved ones won't be left to make difficult decisions on your behalf. Studies show that in families that discuss estate planning, the children are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome. In addition to discussing how the assets will be distributed, the rationale for the structure of the plan must also be explained.

At Catanese and Wells, our estate planning and litigation attorneys can provide expert advisement in the creation of your will and estate plan. We help clients and their family members work through complex tax planning and estate planning issues. Contact Catanese and Wells today for assistance with your estate plan: 818-707-0407.

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