Our friends in Canada have a fault in common with us—waiting until it's too late to talk about the will.  This can create conflicts and hard feelings. It seems no one likes to sit down and have an in-depth discussion about a loved one's passing and what will happen to the loved one's estate.

The Toronto Financial Post recently published an aptly titled article, "Five ways to avoid a family blowout after you’ve died".  It sets out five ways to "avoid a Dynasty­-worthy brawl over your estate."

Remember first and always that communication is key. Explain to your family what you want to accomplish in your estate plan.  Even if your beneficiaries don't agree with your wishes, at least they’ll have a better understanding of your intentions.

You will want to communicate the big picture, but also lay out the particulars.  Don’t forget to mention your personal effects (if it matters to you who gets what item of jewelry or artwork), who you have chosen to carry out your wishes, and, if appropriate, the reasoning behind your choices.  Here are five action steps to consider:

1. Reflect

2. Meet as a family

3. Update your estate planning documents

4. Review your insurance policies

5. Appoint appropriate substitute decision-makers

You should also learn all you can about the kinds of things you can accomplish in your estate plan and what tools and strategies will help you accomplish your wishes.

Reference: Financial Post (March 22, 2014) "Five ways to avoid a family blowout after you’ve died"

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