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Tips for talking to your adult children about your estate plans

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2022 | Estate Planning |

When your children are finally adults and they move out of your family home, you may tell yourself that you no longer have to have difficult parenting discussions with them. Unfortunately, there could still be some difficult parent-child conversations that you will have to tackle.

As you start thinking about your golden years and what happens when you die, you may recognize that you need to create an estate plan or update the one you made when your children were young and required a guardian.

Now you find yourself thinking far more about your legacy rather than who will take care of your children when you die. How do you talk about your estate plan with your adult children?

Plan the discussion ahead of time

Rather than just awkwardly bringing up the topic at your next family holiday meal, you need to think about each of your children and how they will likely take the news. In many families, the best approach will typically require having everyone present simultaneously so that the children don’t feel like the parents played favorites or withheld important information.

Other times, especially when you intend to leave an uneven inheritance, you may determine that talking to each child separately is the better option. Whichever approach you employ, you will need to determine what details your children need now and what can wait until they read your actual will.

Identify which details to share

In all but the rarest of cases, you can potentially reduce the risk of major conflicts during the administration of your estate by providing accurate information about everyone’s inheritance while you are still alive. People will have time to get used to your decisions and will know what to expect when reading your will.

From the rough breakdown of your assets to your decision to disinherit one child, you will need to talk about the basic inheritance you intend to leave for everyone. If you plan to leave something of emotional value to each child, you may want to inform them of those sentimental bequests now so that they could inform you if there was some other piece of your personal property that has more meaning to them.

Discuss other estate planning documents as well

The terms of your will or trust aren’t the only estate planning decisions you may want to share with your children. Exploring your preferences as outlined in your health care directive and talking about who will have authority in your powers of attorney can help people understand what to expect in an emergency, not just after your death.

With the possible exception of scenarios in which family members may become abusive toward you because of your decisions, disclosure is almost always preferable to surprising people with your estate planning decisions after your death. Embracing the need to have a difficult conversation with your children will help ensure that the decisions you make while estate planning do get upheld after you die.