Discussing your Will and your wishes with your family

Have you thought about discussing your Will and your wishes with your family? It might feel rather unpalatable, but it is something we actively encourage clients to do. And more than once.

We had a client a few years ago whose father was diagnosed as terminally ill. He decided to share his Will with her whilst he was still alive and talked to her about it. She was traumatised by the event, but also taken aback by his wishes. He encouraged her to talk to him, so she did. But after he passed away, she discovered he had changed his wishes after she had spoken to him – to her detriment.

It is something she still struggles to come to terms with, and passionately believes that had they had a conversation before his illness she would have been much clearer about his wishes. Regardless of whether that was to her benefit or not, she maintains she would have been more comfortable with that.

Why have we shared this with you?

Because having difficult conversations when the end may be close is always going to be very emotionally charged. Things remain unsaid, for fear of upsetting somebody with limited life expectancy.

Equally, asking your loved one to discuss matters like funeral arrangements when that time may be closer than you would wish feels incredibly insensitive and uncomfortable.

Being able to calmly and rationally discuss how you would like to be remembered and how you would like your funeral to be arranged is so much better. Sometimes a little humour can help. Seeing something in a film or television programme can spark the conversation. But please have that conversation – sooner rather than later.

If nothing else, the last year or so has taught us that we don’t know what the future will bring.

Families have been torn apart and people taken from us with very little warning.

The pandemic limitations on funerals has meant even if wishes have been shared, those events have not been able to happen as you or your family may have wished. But perhaps the good that has come out of that, is that many families have chosen to have an additional event, when restrictions allow, that is celebration of a life passed, rather than sadness. Celebrating a life lived can feel so uplifting and joyful.

It’s not just about your funeral though. Be sure to think about any personal items that you would like loved ones to have. It might even be worth considering giving them when you are still around to see the joy they bring – but that’s for you to decide.

Be aware that your chosen Executor may also be a beneficiary in your Will.

To ask them to see through anything you have decided that may prove unpopular with your wider family is a big ask. At the very least you should make sure your Executors are comfortable with taking on that role and all that it will entail.

You should walk through your Will with your Executors and make sure you are able to answer all their questions, so they are clear about your wishes.

But, to ensure that there are no arguments or unnecessary difficult moments for any of your loved ones, it would be so much easier and better if you sat them all down and talked about how you wish to share your estate and what you would like. Whether you choose to do that as one large family meeting, or with some individuals or pockets of your family, is for you to decide.

Of course, throughout life our circumstances change, and with that your wishes are likely to as well. So, be certain to keep having those conversations, to protect your family and loved ones from any nasty surprises.

If you would like support with writing or updating your Will, or sharing your intentions with your family, please contact us on 01344 875 310. We would be delighted to help.

discussing your Will and your wishes with your family