Aug 16, 2019

Our Insights

It’s one thing to objectively contemplate your own death and how you want your assets distributed after you’re gone. But it’s another thing to try discussing the sensitive topic with your loved ones.

Despite the painful emotions that may arise, you must have that conversation with your family at some point.

Why Prepare?

It’s easy to think that beneficiaries shouldn’t know what they’re going to receive until the will is read. But if you let your inheritance be a surprise, then you’re only setting up your loved ones for confusion and frustration.

Good preparation will smooth the transition of wealth from you to your beneficiaries.

When your heirs are prepared and know what to expect, they will readily take up their new responsibilities and make wise use of the assets you’ve left to them. This increases the chances of the wealth staying in your family.

When to Start Communicating About Your Estate Planning

The next question is: when do you start having those sensitive talks about your will?

60 years of age? 75 years of age? On your deathbed?

The answer may surprise you.

You should start communicating your wishes to your family as soon as possible. That’s right — there’s no such thing as too early when it comes to estate planning.

You can and should start educating your children on your hopes and plans for them as soon as they’re old enough to know how money works. This is especially important if your family already has substantial wealth that’s been passed down from multiple generations.

Your children will need to understand from a young age that they have a responsibility to preserve what they’ve been entrusted with.

Even if your family doesn’t currently have much, you can still introduce your children to the basics of smart money management, business ownership and the responsibility of owning a property. You can explain in age-appropriate terms what they need to know to make good decisions.

Instill values in your children that will help them develop a healthy relationship with and respect for money and prepare them to handle the responsibility of inheriting whatever you may have to pass onto them in the future. Doing this will build your confidence in their ability to make wise use of inherited funds.

Introduce the Topic of Estate Planning Gradually

When it comes to discussing your eventual passing and leaving an inheritance, you can try to broach the topic gently with your adult children. 

It doesn’t have to be a big announcement that you make at a family gathering one day when you’re 99 years old. Start now by using those discussions of day-to-day matters with your kids to weave in mentions of your plans for your wealth.

Get your children comfortable with discussing the idea to prepare them for more serious talks later on. 

Communicate Openly

Once it’s time to sit down and talk about the matter of your eventual death and your wishes concerning your wealth, do so candidly. 

Clearly communicate your desires. This will give your family some context when they have to execute your will later on. Understanding exactly how you feel and what your reasons are will make it easier for them to honour your wishes free of conflict.

A frank discussion will also give you the chance to find out how your heirs feel about your plan. You can determine whether or not they are ready for the responsibility you want to leave them with.

It can be a challenge to get through this discussion with your family. But getting it out of the way will actually help your family to get through the grieving process more easily. When your wishes are clearly communicated in advance, there will be no confusion or discord or hasty financial decisions to add to the strain of their grief.

Ultimately, your loved ones will be grateful to have had the chance to openly discuss your estate wishes and plans with you. 

Get Organised 

There’s still more work to do after having this talk with your family.

First, make sure that all of your important legal and financial documents are stored in a safe place. This will save your family from having to track them down later on.

Next, build a relationship between your heirs and your financial team.

Having a trusted financial adviser you can depend on will be a huge help to your family. They’ll already know who to contact if they have any questions in executing your will. They’ll know that they can trust the advice of the team you’ve chosen and will be confident of their support in protecting your wishes and your family’s best interests.

Get Advice

Talk to the wealth experts at Calder Wealth Management who can help you with all of your inheritance, succession and estate planning needs. Call us on (08) 8373 3333 to schedule your free initial appointment. 

Written by Ben Calder, Private Client Adviser at Calder Wealth Management.