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Estate Planning Family Discussions – Awkward But Necessary!

Many families have rules (spoken or unspoken) about what is and isn’t suitable for discussion. Such rules often concern issues pertaining to elder care and inheritance.  The cautionary tale below is all too familiar.

John and Mary were married for 40 years and raised two children, Susan and Roger.  It was a close, loving family.  As the years went by, the children married, and had children of their own.  These were great years for all involved.

John and Mary were still healthy and vibrant in their 60’s.  No need to discuss the “what ifs” of  illnesses impacting them in later years.  Why upset the kids, and, to be honest, why upset themselves about something they had plenty of time to address in the future?  As for Susan and Roger, they didn’t want to insult their parents by suggesting that they were getting on in years. That was just rude, and being rude was strongly frowned upon in their family.  And, inheritance issues were also not up for discussion.  John and Mary felt their children shouldn’t be thinking about what they’d inherit.  That was just ghoulish and ugly.  Susan and Roger had certainly gotten that message over the years.

By the time John died several years later, Mary was quite ill and unable to voice her wishes.  So, Susan and Roger had to decide how best to care for their mother.  They didn’t see things exactly the same way and this strained their relationship.  However, the breaking point came when Mary died and Susan and Roger learned the terms of Mary’s Will.  Since Mary had passed, there was no way to find out what had led to her decisions.  And so, Susan and Roger’s close relationship was essentially over.

Discussions regarding elder care and inheritance issues are not ugly or rude.  They are necessary, and are actually a kindness to all involved.  They should occur sooner rather than later, before a family begins to unravel.  Yes, these discussions are uncomfortable. Yes, they make us think about things we would prefer avoiding.  But, if you really care about yourself and your loved ones, if you want your wishes respected, and if you hope to leave loved ones a legacy of ongoing loving relationships, then such discussions are a must.  Otherwise, there’s a good chance that one unintended legacy may arise – a breakup of a family you dearly loved.  Don’t the benefits outweigh the discomfort associated with these discussions?

Getting Legal Help:

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Elga A. Goodman, can assist you with all your estate planning needs, and can advise you regarding estate planning discussions with loved ones.  Contact us today at 973-841-5111.

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