Start A Challenging Estate Planning Conversation

During the holiday season, we often take time together with family and reflect on the year as it comes to a close. As we have all gotten a year older, this can also be a time to talk with older parents and other family members about the management of assets going into the future. Especially for those who are founders of a family-owned business, this can be an opportune time to start talking about the what and how of asset management and estate planning.

People resist change, so these conversations can be particularly challenging. There are different levels of resistance, including the problem level of resistance (“There is no problem,” “There is a problem, but it isn’t the one you see,” or “The problem is outside of my control,” etc.), the solution level of resistance (“We agree on the problem but disagree on the direction or details of the solution,” “The solution has too many negative consequences to be doable,” etc.), and the implementation level of resistance (“There is no good way to implement the solution,” “The solution is too risky,” etc.). Additionally, there may also be resistance on a social or psychological level, spoken as “We don’t do it that way here” or “I don’t think so”.

For each level, there are different sets of questions you can ask to help overcome that resistance. Here are some questions that can help you start this conversation:

·      Are there any specific family members who want the responsibility of dealing with the management of their assets?

·      Can the family business or wealth survive without them? If not, what changes could be made in order to make this possible?

·      Are there clear lines of separation between ownership and management of their assets?

·      Are things structured to allow and prepare for the changes brought about by their death or disability?

·      Have they created a plan for what may happen if there is a change in their role?

·      Have they properly planned for retirement?

·      What costs and other negative consequences will result from not making changes in ownership and management of their assets?

·      Is their estate plan properly arranged to bring about what they want?

·      Are they prepared to do something about it?

No one wants to be interrogated over holiday dinner, but these questions can be adapted to each person’s situation to hopefully begin an important conversation when the time is right while seeing family. If nothing else, this may bring the topic to parents’ and other family member’s minds to start considering doing some planning in the near future as the new year begins.

For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.