According to CNBC, only about 33% of Americans have an estate plan prepared. Creating an estate plan is a significant and personal decision. An estate plan makes things easier when it comes to distributing your assets and following your wishes after your passing. You have to consider various factors in preparing your estate plan, including your personal values, your assets and the needs of your loved ones.
Despite this, you might find some loved ones trying to influence your decisions to favor them in your estate plan. Such coercion can put you in a stressful and uncomfortable position. It can also compromise the fairness and integrity of your estate plan. However, there are ways to handle this situation wisely and assertively, preserving your autonomy and respecting your final wishes.
1. Understand and acknowledge coercion
The first step to handling coercion is recognizing it. Loved ones may attempt to pressure you in subtle ways, using emotional manipulation or guilt-tripping tactics. If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable, guilty or anxious about your estate planning decisions because of a family member’s or friend’s influence, this may be a sign of coercion. Acknowledge this coercion and remember that your estate plan should reflect your desires, not someone else’s.
2. Communicate assertively
Open and assertive communication is key in managing situations of coercion. Convey your feelings honestly to the person exerting pressure. Let them know that you understand their concerns, but that this is your decision to make. Use ‘I’ statements to express your feelings, for example, “I feel uncomfortable when you insist on this. I need space to make my own decisions about my estate plan.”
3. Seek support from trusted individuals
Find support from trusted individuals who can help you cope with this pressure. This could be a trusted friend, a family member or a mentor. It can also be your estate planning attorney! Having someone who can listen and provide unbiased advice can be incredibly helpful in such situations.
4. Keep your estate plan confidential
To protect yourself from further coercion, it might be best to keep the details of your estate plan confidential, between you and your attorney. By doing this, you are reducing opportunities for manipulation and maintaining control over your decisions.
Dealing with coercion while creating your estate plan is difficult but remember, this is your plan, and it should align with your wishes, values and needs. By using these steps, you can ensure your estate plan accurately reflects your wishes without undue influence from others.