Discuss your Estate Plan with your Family
Once your finished estate plan is signed, by you, have it witnessed by an impartial third-party, and notarized, the work is not over. There is still some heavy lifting for you to do.You need to talk with your adult children about the contents of your estate plan. This is a difficult but important conversation to have as talking about your estate plan with your kids and your family is the best way to infuse life into your planning.
Ease into the First Money Talk
No child wants to discuss the eventual death of a healthy parent. So, as a conversation starter you might talk about long-term care expenses. A parent may say to their kids, “I just read an article in the paper about how expensive long-term care is. We have made specific plans so that if that need arises, we have the costs covered. Mom and I thought you might want to know how we plan on meeting those expenses.” As the talk progresses you might expand the conversation by remarking, “My friend Eric’s dad just passed away. Eric tells me that he and his siblings are in constant arguments over the estate. We do not want anything like that to happen in our family, so let us tell you how things will work.”
It is better to use someone else’s crisis than your own as the conversation starter.
Try and Have One Conversation
If possible, it is best to have “the talk” with everyone involved present at the same time. That way, you tell everyone the same thing. Emphasize the practical aspects of the talk. You may plan to leave your children a large sum of money, or you may fear that you will run out of money before you pass on and will be counting on the kids for help. Whatever your situation, it affects everyone and letting them know your plans is the fairest thing you can do.
Explain Your Thinking
Although you have the right to do whatever you want with your money, discussing how you arrived at key decisions will help your family.
If your children’s expectations are different from your plans, for instance a family business is going to only one child, or one kid is getting more than others the opportunity is there to explain your decision. So, while the family may not like or understand completely your plan they will know it is your decision alone.
This conversation will help the family you love when you do pass on and they are in an emotional state — you made your wishes known to them and they can accept them without going to war.
Ryan C. Young | Estate Planning | Richmond, Virginia