The Most Difficult Conversation

During the winter break, I read a book called Difficult Conversations, how to discuss what matters most. The authors teach ways to engage in conversations, maintain good relationships and convey and receive meaning and intentions without blame and defensiveness. They point out that the key to engaging in successful difficult conversations is to talk about feelings, intentions, underlying meaning and past experiences that shape who we are. Attempting a difficult conversation without sharing feelings and intentions is compared to throwing a live hand grenade. The results are usually destructive.

Making your will or trust can be the most difficult conversation of all because it is often a one-way conversation. And sadly, when reading these trusts and wills, we find that they tell “what to do” and “how to do,” but leave out the author’s deepest meaning, intent and wishes. No wonder only 30 percent of people ever make a will or trust. Worse yet, 70 percent of wills and trusts do not go as intended because they omit the person’s intention and leave the heirs to guess.

So, I encourage you to consider making your estate plan if you haven’t yet done so. If anxiety, fear and uncertainty are holding you back, this is where an attorney skilled in estate planning can guide you. When you do engage in this process, make sure that in this most difficult conversation, you relay not only the legal “how to,” but also work with your attorney to convey your deepest meaning, intentions and wishes.