Creating an estate plan is an essential part of planning your future, but many people do not even have a will. A recent study from Caring.com discovered that among every 10 Americans, only four have a will or a trust.
Creating an estate plan can protect your wishes after you die and also reduce family tension. These strategies can prevent family discord during a difficult time.
Do not overlook personal property
Even small items, like holiday decorations or a beloved childhood toy, can trigger major disagreements. Before you finalize your estate, ask your children which items hold sentimental value for them and indicate these wishes in your will.
Select the right executor
Many people choose their executor on the basis of family hierarchy instead of thinking about necessary skills. Choose someone responsible and ethical with good organizational skills. This can be a family member, a close friend or even a professional fiduciary.
Explain special circumstances
Unequal bequests without an explanation can create long-term rifts between siblings. If you do not plan to distribute your estate equally among your children, hold a family meeting to explain your reasoning in-person. The conversation may be uncomfortable, but it could keep your children from placing blame on each other after your death.
You should also make sure you regularly update your estate planning documents so they reflect your most current wishes. Look over your trust, will and beneficiary designations following major life changes, such as deaths, divorces, marriages and the birth of a new child.