Speaking openly with your children about the sensitive topics related to your estate planning and retirement plans can be difficult. After all, your estate plan is an intensively private matter. However, discussing these matters with your children may prevent confusion and resentment in the future. Over the next few articles, we will discuss six reasons why sharing your estate plan with your children may be a good idea. Here are the first two:
- Avoiding Sibling Rivalry. Failing to discuss your choices with your children may create tension and uncertainty amongst siblings. When naming a personal representative of your will, a trustee of your trust, or an agent under power of attorney, clients often relay to me concerns about “being fair” to their children and not wanting to “single out” one child over another. I advise client to discuss these concerns with their children. Make it clear that being a Power of Attorney or Trustee is NOT an award or a sign that a child is more important than another. Rather, the child selected for these duties is often based more on intangible factors (location, education, “good with numbers”) than on the child’s relationship with the parent. Sharing this rational with your family often-times clarifies the role and diffuses any unnecessary confusion or rivalry.
- Clarifying Pre-Conceived Ideas. Children often underestimate their parents’ net-worth. They also may have pre-conceived ideas about to whom assets such as farms, vacation homes or investment properties may be devised. While discussing your net-worth with your children may not be necessary, it may give your children greater piece of mind to hear your plan regarding specific assets, especially pieces of real estate.
Meet with a qualified elder law attorney first to discuss your different estate planning options. Once your estate plan is in place, it may be a good time to have “the talk” with your family.
In the next article, we will discuss two more reasons to open up about your estate plan: Avoiding Probate and Taxes and Explaining Your Intentions.
To get started on your estate plan, give us a call today for an office or home-visit.