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Last Will and Testament resized 600I’ve often asked you the question, “Do you have a will?”  I ask this because it’s a document that too many people have never gotten around to putting together.  Even fewer have updated their will in the last five years, and even rarer are the people who bother to share what they have in their will with those affected.

Your will is a document about your life.

Your will is not only about your “stuff.”  It’s about what you think is important and what you want to see happen after you’re gone.  Your will is the last thing that you’ll usually say about what’s important to you. 

When I first bring up the subject of legacy many people tell me legacy isn’t very important.  I want to challenge you on that statement.  Do you really thing legacy is not important?  Don’t you think you have important things to teach those who are close to you?  If you don’t, I encourage you to think again.

Your will lets others know what they should do after you die.

When you spend time putting together your will you’re letting those you love and those who depend on you know what you want to have happen.  You can leave them final messages about what you think is important.  You can use the wisdom that you’ve learned over the years to leave lessons that you’ve learned through mistakes you’ve made.

If you’re one of those people who say they don’t care what happens after they’re gone spend some time thinking about those who are important to you.  Those you leave are going to care.  Those who haven’t had the chance to have a conversation with you about your wishes are going to wish they had that chance.

No one likes surprises.

You’ve heard about families that spend years litigating wills after someone dies.  If you haven’t heard about this, understand that it happens.  The more money that’s involved, the more likely it will be that litigation is the end result.  This is especially true if you haven’t shared your will.

I know you don’t want to talk about your death.  I get that.  If you like the idea that lawyers and courts will decide what you want, then by all means don’t have a conversation.  I want to ask you a question, “Do you like surprises?”  I bet the answer is no.  If that is true then why would your loved ones like surprises? Especially after you can’t speak for yourself anymore.  Do everyone a favor, talk about what’s in your will before you die.

Kick it up a notch; discuss your will with those affected.

Here’s the next step you need to take.  Don’t stop at just telling people what’s in your will.  Take it one step further and ask them what they think.  Start a discussion about what’s in your will.  You will probably find that those you love will have an opinion.

The problem you might find and one that would be easy to ignore is that your family will say they don’t care.  It’s your money and you should do what you want.  When you hear this you have to probe.  Everyone has an opinion.  When the conversation turns to an uncomfortable issue such as dying it’s tough to have a conversation. 

If you want to really get an answer you’re going to have to demand an opinion.  You have to be the one to change the pattern.  Your family isn’t going to help you here.

Listen to what’s being said.

When those you love tell you what they really think you might have a tendency to not listen to what they’re saying.  You might want to do just do what you want to do.  If that’s your wish then you need to be clear about that.  You can say that this is not open for discussion; I want you to know what I’ve decided.

I’m not a big fan of that approach.  You want to hear out what those you love think.  After all, you’re influencing what’s going to happen in their life.  Shouldn’t you at least hear what they think?  You can always decide that you still want to do what you want to do.  Hearing is an important part of learning. 

It’s really very simple.  Have a conversation before you die and I recommend several conversations as a way to keep family harmony after you’re gone.  Isn’t this something that you think is important?

We have a special report on the basics of estate planning.  This report doesn’t talk about the soft side that we’ve covered in this post, but it does talk about the mechanics that you’ll need to do.  To get this report, click on the button below.

Click Here ForBasic Estate Planning

Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

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Topics: finances, family, estate planning

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