Estate Read Time: 10 min

Estate Planning as a Family Unit

Throughout previous stages of life, you might have become accustomed to keeping your financial matters fairly close to the chest. Now, however, would be a good time to start involving your family as you develop and effectuate your estate plans. This article will help you think about how best to engage with your children, as you discuss your wealth and wishes. You need to take control by starting the conversation now. How? First, restate your values. Then, cover both the physical and financial sides of your estate. Also, involve any professionals that can support you with this conversation. Let’s unpack these ideas.

The Best Time to Talk is Right Now

Sometimes retirees, particularly those in later retirement, tend to feel that discussions are had about them rather than with them. But you need to be heard. Although it may feel uncomfortable at first, you need to lead these discussions now, while you still can. It is your life, your money and your estate in question. Your wishes matter, and it is you who will be the recipient of any care you might need in your latter years. It is you who should decide what’s to be done with the fruits of your labor.

Rather than waiting for discussions to be triggered by some medical or other crisis, which is hardly the ideal time for such conversations to take place, take advantage of this time as an opportunity to express your vision and wishes. In other words, it’s time to talk to your family once again about your values—and about how you envision those values coming into play for all of you now.

Restate Your Values

The most beneficial inheritance you can leave your kids isn't always money. Your kids could very well benefit more from the financial values and discipline you instill in them than any lump sum of cash you might leave them. These values, as much as your estate, can create a lasting legacy for your family.

Let’s look at how your financial values might come into play in your current situation.

  • Be honest with your family about any debts you still have outstanding. It's only fair to do this now so there are no surprises later on. You can remind them of the value of living a debt-free life as far as possible by reducing spending until you can afford the things you want to purchase.
  • Inform them about your savings accounts in case they need this information in your later years. This is important because you may have saved money in various places, for different reasons and outcomes. You need to let your family see the value of saving for their own future and retirement.
  • If you’re holding any investments, you can share with them about how you want them used or to whom you want them distributed. This might include passing on part of your estate to children, grandchildren, charitable causes or parties outside your immediate family.

Including Physical Matters in Estate Planning as a Family

You need to tell your kids and any other relevant parties about your wishes should you become very ill. This might seem like a sad or even a morbid topic of discussion. However, this is not only a necessary discussion from a purely practical viewpoint; it is also one that can provide the space for you to outline exactly what your wishes are for your latter years.

Here are some of the questions you might want to discuss.

  • Are there any illnesses, conditions or medical symptoms that you have not yet discussed with your family or that require special treatment they don't know about?
  • Do you have any specific wishes about your desired end that you need to inform your family and other caregivers about?
  • Do you know what systems, services and support are available to you and to your family at this time and as you near end-of-life care?
  • Has a plan been drawn up and steps taken to ensure that this plan will be properly enacted?
  • What are your preferences around terminal illness, pursuing cures, aggressive treatments, extended hospitalization, life-saving interventions or other treatment options?
  • Are there decisions about your care and your desired end that you want to entrust to specific family members?
  • Are these wishes and any others expressed in writing?

Framing these issues in terms of your family’s values can help you all better navigate your way through these delicate topics with care and confidence.

Addressing Financial Aspects of Estate Planning as a Family

At this stage in your life, perhaps the most important quality that your financial estate plans should embody is clarity. You need to clearly define all the terms of the transfer of your estate. No uncertainty should remain concerning how you want money, objects of value, savings, investments, stocks and shares or other financial resources to be bequeathed to named family members, outsiders, charities or any other party.

The best way to achieve this level of clarity is to have your financial wishes written down or communicated in a way that can be easily authenticated, witnessed and dated. You need to create a fully legalized, comprehensive will in which all of your estate and final wishes are covered. Securing the services of an estate planner and an attorney is prudent at any stage, but perhaps even more so now.

Seeking Professional Guidance in the Estate Planning Process

Getting professional guidance (financial and otherwise) is just as vital, if not more, in your retirement years as it has been up to this point. Financial professionals, estate planning specialists, insurance specialists, attorneys, and even medical professionals and consultants all can play vital roles in your family’s estate planning process and in its execution.

A financial professional, in particular, can serve as a trusted, central point of contact for you and your family members, and even your other ancillary advisors. Given that we should know you on a personal level, understand your goals and have an overarching view of your situation, we can be uniquely positioned to advocate for you in each of these other arenas. We can often coordinate with these other professionals to help ensure that your estate plans are properly effectuated and executed, when the time comes.

Book an appointment today to discuss your questions and how to include and engage your family in the estate planning process.

This material was developed and prepared by a third party for use by your Registered Representative. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information.

For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor. Neither Cetera nor any of its representatives may give legal or tax advice.

Have A Question About This Topic?

Thank you! Oops!

Related Content

My Retirement Savings

My Retirement Savings

Estimate how long your retirement savings may last using various monthly cash flow rates.

Three Key Questions to Answer Before Taking Social Security

Three Key Questions to Answer Before Taking Social Security

When to start? Should I continue to work? How can I maximize my benefit?

A Look at Systematic Withdrawals

A Look at Systematic Withdrawals

This calculator may help you estimate how long funds may last given regular withdrawals.