Finances don’t top most couples’ lists of favorite dinner topics. In fact, in a recent study, almost two-thirds of engaged people expressed negative feelings about discussing finances with their spouse-to-be.1 Don’t let mere discomfort stand in the way of free and open estate planning conversations with your spouse. After all, proper estate planning is one of the most important things you can do for your spouse, your children and your legacy.
Apply the following tips to guide an effective estate planning conversation.
How to Start the Conversation
Before diving into estate planning details, sit down with your spouse to discuss why you want to address your estate plan now. Convey why you believe estate planning should be a priority and what you want to accomplish. Identifying the reasons why you want to draft an estate plan can provide a clear framework for the decisions you make along the way.
Topics to Address
- Assets. Start by creating an inventory of all assets and financial accounts. This inventory should include each asset’s estimated value, titling information (if applicable) and any relevant contact information for someone managing the account. Consider using an estate management tool such as Asset Manager from Fifth Third Bank LegacyLink to collect all your asset information in one place.
- Beneficiaries. Who do you want to receive your assets? Make a list of items you would like to pass on to each beneficiary. Some assets such as insurance policies, IRAs and other retirement accounts have beneficiary designations outside of a Last Will and Testament, so consult with your estate planning attorney to ensure your beneficiary designations are up to date.
- Guardian for Minor Children. If you have young children, you and your spouse should make arrangements for who would take care of your children if you weren’t able. Try making a list of potential guardians and discuss who you both think would be the best fit for your children.
- Charitable Giving Opportunities. Are there any charitable organizations you and your spouse would like to support as part of your estate plan? There are several options for including charitable giving in your estate plan, so consult with your estate planning attorney and financial advisor to create a charitable trust or include these wishes in your will.
- End-of-Life Wishes. It is important your spouse understands your end-of-life wishes, should you be unable to express those wishes for yourself in the future. You can even use this opportunity to plan ahead for your funeral or memorial service to make a difficult process easier for your family.
- Must-Haves. Be clear with your spouse if there is a specific goal you would like your estate plan to accomplish. Spouses may have different objectives, so it is important to understand them early.
- Take a Break. Estate planning should give both you and your spouse peace of mind about what will happen after you are gone. If you feel the conversation getting heated over a particular topic, take a breather and revisit the conversation once you have both had time to calm down and think clearly.
Having estate planning discussions with your spouse is a key part of making sure both of your wishes are honored in order to leave a lasting legacy for your family. If you have questions or need assistance crafting an estate plan, contact a Fifth Third Bank advisor.