How to Successfully Avoid Family Friction When Discussing Your Estate Plan


Estate attorneys often find that their clients are worried about how to share the details of their estate plan with their heirs. Although talking about death and money can be awkward, there are a few things you can do to minimize the odds of family friction.

If your estate plan includes provisions that you expect to be controversial, such as an unequal distribution of assets, it's a good idea to practice what you want to say to your children beforehand in regards to your decision. Your heirs will be more likely to respect your wishes if you clearly explain your reasoning, such as providing more cash support in recognition of the fact that one of your children has sacrificed his or her career prospects in order to provide unpaid elder care. Preparing note cards with a few talking points might be helpful if you are afraid you'll get flustered in the heat of the moment.

At the meeting itself, don't forget that you're in control. Set ground rules for the discussion, such as not allowing people to talk out of turn or use personal insults. If the meeting gets too argumentative, remember that you can always cancel and try again when everyone is ready to discuss the issue in a more rational manner.

If needed, consider bringing an estate attorney in to act as a facilitator. The casual approach is preferred by most people, but may not be appropriate when there are significant differences of opinion among family members. Having a neutral third party present can set the tone for a less emotionally charged discussion. An estate attorney can also help answer questions your heirs might have in a logical fashion.

How Can We Help?

If you are in need of assistance creating an estate plan, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our Pasadena estate planning attorneys can help you create a plan that best addresses your specific needs.