It’s not easy to think about your own mortality. And it might be worrying to think about how your loved ones are going to get by once you’re gone. But you can’t let these fears paralyze you into inaction. Instead, you need to take the steps necessary to ensure that you have a sound estate plan in place that protects not only you while you’re still alive, but also your estate and your loved ones. This includes having discussions with your adult children about your estate plan.
We know that those can be uncomfortable conversations to have, but there are some guidelines that you can follow to make the process easier.
- Consider your family dynamics: Every family is different. Some are able to come together to discuss difficult topics like estate planning without issue while others struggle to communicate at all. Depending on your family dynamics, you can develop a discussion strategy that is right for you. This might include piecemealing the conversation and only telling your children what they need to know as opposed to filling them in on every detail of your plan and the considerations that went into developing it.
- Know when and how to bring up the subject: You’ll probably want to set some time aside to discuss your estate plan with your children, and having the conversation in a place that isn’t already emotionally charged may be best. You can bring the topic up naturally by discussing what caused you to create an estate plan in the first place, which may include concerns about the futures of your loved ones, an interesting article that you read, or advice from a financial or legal advisor. It’s okay to have this conversation over the course of time instead of all at once.
- Provide context: Your estate plan might seem pretty clear to you, but to your loved ones it might be somewhat confusing without context. So, tell your children about the values that drove you to create your estate plan the way you did and discuss your vision of the future of your estate. After all, your children may play a significant role in developing that future. You’ll want to do the same when you talk about who you want to be in charge of the estate’s finances when you’re gone.
- Be clear: A poorly drafted or explained estate plan can lead to not only familial strife, but also legal challenges that can threaten the viability of your estate plan. Therefore, you want to be clear not just in the drafting of your estate planning documents, but also in describing the justifications for your estate plan to your children. So, if you’ve left assets to your loved ones in an unequal fashion, then be sure to spell out why you made that decision.
Remember, there’s no cookie-cutter approach to discussing your estate plan with your adult children. That’s why we hope that these tips will help you develop a strategy that works for you and your family.
But it’s also critically important to keep in mind that your discomfort in discussing your estate plan with your children shouldn’t dictate how you craft your estate plan. After all, your estate plan can have ramifications for your family for years or even decades to come. You therefore want to make sure that you’re making the decisions that are right for them and your estate. If you’d like help in crafting an estate planning strategy that reaches that outcome, or if you need assistance discussing your estate plan with your adult children, then you may want to reach out to a an estate planning legal professional for assistance.