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Broach financial topics without sparking family disputes

For many people, an important step in the estate planning process is talking to family members about financial situations and what the plans for the future are. Money can be a volatile topic no matter how much you have, and many people are nervous to broach such topics out of fear that it will spark debates and infighting. The truth is, however, your heirs and beneficiaries are going to find out about these things sooner or later, and by informing them yourself you can often provide reasons for your decisions that make family members more likely to accept the outcome of your estate plans.

You can talk about estate planning and money with family in a variety of ways. Some people approach each beneficiary or heir separately to discuss sensitive matters. While this can lead to he-said-she-said issues, it can also be a good idea if you want to personally explain certain decisions to people. If you do go the one-on-one route, don't ambush someone when they are running low on time or have had a bad day. Instead, schedule some time so you can have a good, productive discussion. Invite them over for coffee or enjoy some time walking through the park while you talk.

Another option is to schedule a "family" meeting of all your closest heirs and beneficiaries. You can use this time to lay out your plans and provide any details you want. If you decide on a one-and-done approach, consider giving some heads up about details to a spouse or adult children, especially if you are including friends or other relatives in the mix. If you do hold a meeting, make sure to keep control -- let everyone ask questions and speak, but make sure they understand that these are your decisions and you have already made them.

Simply making your wishes known to others doesn't make them come true at the appropriate time, though. Make sure you work with an estate law professional to draft the appropriate documents to protect and enforce your wishes.

Source: Money, "How to Talk to Your Family About Money Without Fighting," Melissa Joy, accessed March 04, 2016

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