Death and money are often two of the most uncomfortable topics for people to talk about. However, scheduling a time to talk to your adult children about your estate plan can help ensure your plan is implemented smoothly when the time comes.
Because talking about your estate plan can be difficult for you and for your children, it can be helpful to schedule a family meeting specifically for this discussion. It is often best to schedule this discussion for a time separate from major family celebrations.
Consider what you are willing to share
Before everyone gathers, it can be helpful to create a plan for what you want to share. Some people are willing to be completely open with their children about sensitive topics, but others are only willing to share a general overview. As you decide how much detail to provide, consider if the details will impact your children or not.
Whether you choose to be specific or general, it can be valuable to touch on the following topics:
- What is in your will or trust
- If you are living within your means
- Who will make medical or financial decisions for you if you cannot
- Who will manage your final affairs
Focus the discussion on your values
Once everyone has gathered, you can explain estate plan in as much detail as you determined is appropriate. Instead of focusing on death and money, try to focus on your values and how they affected your decisions. Make sure your children’s inheritance expectations are realistic, and try to address any concerns your children have about your estate plan. It can also be beneficial to make sure alternate decision makers are prepared for the responsibilities they may eventually need to take on.
One of the benefits in discussing your plan now is that you can talk with your loved ones about their concerns, explain your decisions and potentially prevent future family squabbles or will contests. Although estate planning is not a democratic process, another benefit to this discussion is that you can make changes to your plan, if you decide that changes are appropriate.
Discussing your estate plan can be a challenge for everyone involved. However, taking the time to get everyone on the same page and address immediate concerns can help prevent possible problems when it comes time to implement your plan.