Talking to Your Family About Your Will

Talking about your will with the people that will be most affected by it is never going to be easy, but doing so should minimise the risk of any future disputes and resentment when the time comes.

Guides

Why it’s good to talk about your plans

Having an open discussion about your will should help avoid potential squabbles between family members and loved ones when you’re no longer around. It’s a chance to outline your wishes and plans, explain your thoughts behind certain decisions and even get some feedback from your loved ones as well.

Death isn’t an easy subject, but starting the initial conversation will be worth it in the long-run, as you’re making sure that the distribution of your estate will be as straightforward as possible for everyone involved.

Preparing for ‘the talk’ with your family

A mere 7% of people have spoken to their parents about inheritance, but we’re sure that those who do so will experience a more comfortable transition when the inevitable happens. 

1. Outlining some simple goals 

Your will is a way of setting out what you want the money you leave behind to achieve. You should start by listing goals and key priorities, which may include things like: 

This may take some time and careful consideration because you will be referring back to this list during ‘the talk’ and when making a draft of your will. Once you have determined your goals, it becomes a lot easier to work out how you should distribute the estate and it also helps you explain any decisions to your family. 

2. Writing a draft of your will

Making a rough draft of your will is bound to help the conversation go more smoothly, even if it’s as simple as a few bullet points outlining your goals and what you want your money to achieve. 

If you need further advice on how to write a will, read our guide for more information, or register now to get started today. 

3. Planning a time to talk 

Planning a family meeting to talk about your death is never going to be pleasant and for many, it might be a little awkward, but it’s something that will only benefit everyone in the long-run. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a formal board-meeting type of discussion; it can be as simple as setting aside ten spare minutes over an evening meal.  

How you do so depends on the type of people you are, so choose a comfortable way that suits you and your family’s personalities. 

What to say during the talk with your family

The most important things to cover when talking to your family about your will include: 

  • What you want to achieve 
  • The details of your plan
  • Any suggestions or opinions from your family’s perspective

1. Outline what you want to achieve 

Avoid going into much depth to begin with – start with simple, straightforward goals (what you want your money to achieve when you’re no longer around). Doing so will help your family understand your thought process and should help steer clear of any conflicts between family relationships.

2. Introduce some details 

Once you’ve explained your goals, you might want to introduce some details. You don’t need to go down to the exact pounds and pence, but perhaps something like ‘I plan to leave Lisa a third of my estate because she will need the support in the future’, for example. That way, you cover some details without being too specific. 

3. Ask for suggestions and thoughts on your plan

You should always encourage your family to be open about their thoughts on the issues surrounding your will, before it’s too late. 

Their suggestions will help you see things from a different perspective and may give you some ideas that you hadn’t previously considered. It also gives them a chance to mention any sentimental objects or assets that they’d like to inherit.

4. Explain that things can change

Remember to stress that it is just a draft and circumstances will almost certainly change between the time of your conversation and the time of your death; whether you have new additions to the family or suffer losses. 

It’s crucial that you update your will as and when your life circumstances change in order for it to remain accurate and legally valid, so tell them that you will be able to review and reassess your will if needs be.

5. Try to come across as considerate

Families can be complicated at times, particularly where step-children, second marriages, divorces, and adoptions are involved. 

While your will may be based on who you care for the most, you should try to avoid explicitly saying that. Instead, try to explain how each person would benefit from the inheritance and focus on the positives, rather than who is being left out and your reasons for leaving them out. 

After talking to your family about your will 

Now that you’ve spoken with your family, be sure to review the draft of your will as you may have some new ideas or at least a new perspective.

Once you’ve reassessed your draft, it’s then time to start writing your first finalised will with Unite Wills. 

You can write your will in just three simple steps by registering now and using our easy will-writing service. Or if you want some further advice, complete our short contact form and a member of our experienced team will be in touch at a time that suits you.