Would you advise your clients to tell their adult children about their estate planning documents?

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Posted 4 years.

3 Comments

  • Phil Day - 4 years ago

    I totally disagree, even with equal divisions, every parent should discuss their estate planning with the children after it is done. At a minimum it gives the kids a chance to ask questions about their roles and what is expected of them at incapacity and at death. I suggest not involving them in the decision making until after the documents are executed thereby putting down the intentions in writing and allowing amendments in the future otherwise it will never get done. There absolutely will be aggravation and resentment and every emotion under the sky, but that goes with being a parent and a child. Communication is the goal no matter how hard it may be. What's the alternative, to pass away without telling your kids anything? Talk about leaving your kids a lasting memory of emptiness and sorrow with each of them asking themselves, why would my mom or dad make this kind of decision. Many times, parents and children become estranged for the silliest of reasons and both sides have their arguments. When parents don't discuss their estate plans with kids and they make unequal allocations among the kids, it creates resentment and hatred not just for the deceased but for the siblings that got more, basically causing an irreparable rift in the family. But when people sit down and talk, it gives all parties a chance to clear the air. If it doesn't get cleared up, at least the kids that do get less of an inheritance know why and are less likely to file a challenge in court. If it gets cleared up, it gives the kids and opportunity to redeem themselves in the eyes of their parents. There is no question that greed can get involved whenever there is money. But parents need their kids more today than ever as they get older. If money makes a child more attentive or opens the door to the grandkids, and provides comfort and happiness to an aging population, then why not. In my practice, estate planning can be a way to open the door to family relationships that have been pulled apart because of life. And sometimes, the discussion of death, can pull people back together. So yes, it is a tough discussion and can cause aggravation and hardship, but that's what we all sign up for when we have kids. After death, there are no final words unless you leave a video will and even those are one-way. A dialogue has many benefits and I like to think that as an estate planner, I not only help families plan for their estate, but help families stay as families.

  • Suzanne Hart - 4 years ago

    Parents should tell thier children about assignments to Trusteeship or Successor Trusteeship and obtain thier agreement prior to the adult child "getting the job". Many do not have time nor talent to do or understand the responsibilities of this role. It could create friction in the family as well.

  • Anil Rathi - 4 years ago

    Although, I support that the older children should paticiapte in the decision making, as well as knowing some of the details, however their could be a reason that the parents would prefer to keep it secret from children, for example protect themselves from abuse, protecting the wealth. The decision should be solely based on the circumstrances and with some good ound advise.

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