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Estate planning is difficult conversation for families

For most people, death is not a fun topic, and it is a subject that many tend to avoid as much as possible. This means estate planning is also a subject that is commonly avoided in California since it entails contemplating one's own death. A study conducted by Fidelity in 2014 confirmed this after concluding that families struggle having difficult conversations surrounding finances. The study also found that those who have had conversations regarding finances lacked adequate details.

If one has not yet talked with his or her parents about estate planning, it may be a good idea to do this as soon as possible. One never knows when something unexpected may happen. It may be a good idea to start the conversation in a casual tone and broach the subject by saying, for instance, that something was said about estate planning on the radio or television. This can provide a smooth transition into asking one's parents about their own plans for estate administration.

Sometimes a person's parents will not have even started making an estate plan. In this case, one can begin talking to them about some of the key components of a good estate plan. These will include various legal instruments, such as a last will and testament, which will direct how one's assets should be distributed among intended beneficiaries. A power-of-attorney document will come in handy if the benefactor has become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for himself or herself.

However, these two estate planning documents are only a part of creating a thorough estate plan in California. Trusts can play a key role in plans to minimize estate tax liabilities. However, not everyone is the same, and each person will have his or her own unique needs. Therefore, an estate plan should be customized in order to fit one's individual estate planning goals.

Source:, "Estate Planning", Dee Lee, June 19, 2015

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