There are topics that many Americans do not feel comfortable discussing, even with friends and family. Some topics are too personal, others are simply uncomfortable. Estate planning touches on two topic that many people have trouble discussing: money and death.

A need-to-know basis

Telling other people about your salary, spending habits, savings or investments can be difficult. Financial matters are so intensely personal that many divorcing couples cite a lack of financial transparency as one cause of the separation. If people won’t discuss finances with their spouse, who will they confide in?

When families are caught by surprise by the last wishes of a loved one, it can lead to bad blood. If a person passes away with no estate plan, family members may fight over what they believe the deceased would have wanted. While it is not always easy, it is often better to be transparent about your plans and estate planning goals with those affected.

Owning a legacy

Your estate plan is personal, in that your wishes should control your legacy. Your estate plan is shared, in that it affects more than just you. An open and honest discussion about your goals and plans can not only smooth family relations, it can also help you protect your legacy exactly as you see fit.

Estate planning accomplishes many goals. A proper plan can minimize tax liability, protect the people you care about, and secure your financial security in your retirement years. All of those goals can better be accomplished if you are willing to have frank conversations with your estate planning attorney and the people who are closest to you.