Talking to Beneficiaries About Your Estate Intentions

March 16, 2022

It’s no surprise that couples disagree throughout their marriage. For the most part, those differences can be resolved relatively quickly, but common ground can feel very far off when it comes to estate planning. A few critical considerations can influence how you select and communicate your intentions to your beneficiaries. Moreover, the spectrum of complexities that can arise around children in blended families is often one of the most emotionally challenging aspects of estate planning.

It's often assumed by one partner or the other that their children will be the estate's beneficiaries. But one partner may want to leave a portion of the estate to an educational institution, charity, a grandchild, or even a closely-regarded caregiver.

Quite often, children assume they'll inherit an estate in its entirety. To avoid animosity or confusion, it's crucial to talk through your intentions ahead of time. During this conversation, consider if the children are prepared to take on the responsibility of the inheritance. Sometimes, administering the funds through a third party makes more sense but can cause hurt feelings, so tread lightly here.

It may be uncomfortable for couples to discuss the possibility of remarriage after divorce or death. But they can often agree that it's important to talk through the option for the sake of protecting the financial well-being of the children they've raised together. Too often, couples don't prepare for actual scenarios.

The worry is that if the surviving spouse remarries and shares their estate with a new partner, then the children from the previous marriage may no longer get their fair share of the estate. Transferring wealth with a new spouse and a new family dynamic encourages complications that only clear communication can appease.

Previous marriages that include children also play a part in how you approach your estate plan. Frequently in estate planning, you have to grapple with two completely different expectations.

No matter how you decide to allocate your estate—whether everything goes to your children or you divide your wealth among a larger group—it's vital to speak to your beneficiaries ahead of time. Though there are no simple solutions to multi-layered family and wealth transfer issues, creating a safe space to discuss these delicate issues can prevent resentment and confusion.

Implemented correctly, setting up an estate plan doesn’t have to be complicated or harbor hurt feelings. Call our office today, and we can help you start your plan or even change up an existing plan.


This document is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. One should consult a legal or tax professional regarding their own personal situation. Any comments regarding safe and secure investments and guaranteed income streams refer only to fixed insurance products offered by an insurance company. They do not refer in any way to securities or investment advisory products Insurance policy applications are vetted through an underwriting process set forth by the issuing insurance company. Some applications may not be accepted based upon adverse underwriting results.  Death benefit payouts are based upon the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company. The firm providing this document is not affiliated with the Social Security Administration or any other government entity.

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