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January 22, 2024

Keeping the lines of communication open with your loved ones.

With the start of a New Year, it’s a great time to review what has, or hasn’t, been communicated to the people you have named in your estate plan. Finding the right time to talk to your children or loved ones about your plan is different for everyone, and is based on your own unique situation. Let’s take a look at some communication strategies you can take during your life stages; the working years, the retirement years, and then the later years, with some possible scenarios to consider.

Early on, while you are still working and your children have reached adulthood, it may be the right time to discuss your estate plan from a high level, letting them know if you have named them for a particular role and what their responsibilities may be. For some, this could be an awkward or uncomfortable conversation at first, so you may consider individual or group conversations, depending on how you think your children may react and how emotional they may be. Hopefully, this will foster some good questions and also be a catalyst for them to start thinking about their own financial future and developing and implementing their own estate plan, if not already in place. 

During your retirement years, it’s a good time for further conversation with your family and further involvement as it relates to your estate plan. And, if there are grandchildren, it’s an opportunity for planning for future generations. Educational planning may be pertinent and serve as a dress rehearsal for family involvement. If charity is important, it can also be a great chance to bring the family together and share family values by working on common ground for family charitable endeavors, especially for the future generations. Family businesses and second marriages can add another level of complexity to your estate plan so it’s very important to ensure that those who are named in the plan are aware and what their roles may be. If you haven’t already, you should introduce your family to your key advisors such as your financial advisor, attorney, CPA, and anyone else that may be a resource. If you haven’t had the chance to make an introduction, make sure they at least know who your key advisors are.    

In your later years, it’s time to simplify where you can and ensure that the lines of communication are completely open with the people named in your estate plan. During this time, it’s a good idea to have your key people join you in important meetings with your advisors and have them play more active roles in your affairs. For example, it may make sense to have the people you have named step up as a co-trustee, if you have any trusts as part of your planning. Technology can play a useful role by providing access and transparency to your financial accounts. Giving access to certain accounts for the key people you have named (co-trustees, power of attorney(s), etc.) may be a good solution for assistance in bill payments, monitoring transactions, or addressing any issues on your behalf.

Wealth is a responsibility – the more wealth you have the more responsibility comes along with it. If you have any questions or wish to discuss your unique plan with a Ciccarelli advisor, please do not hesitate to contact us.  Happy New Year!