Having an estate plan in place helps to expedite the settlement process, thereby reducing the financial burden as well as allowing family members to move on after the loss of a loved one. Still, it can be hard to talk about your estate plan with your children.
Here are some tips we’ve learned from our experience and clients’ experience which may be helpful.
BRING UP THE SUBJECT IN A QUIET ENVIRONMENT
Find an appropriate time to bring up the topic of estate planning with your children, that allows for some discussion, thought, and conversation. This may be over dinner, or an activity that brings you all together, and this will vary from family to family. Avoid moments where you, or they, are likely to be distracted or unexpectedly interrupted.
HAVE A GOAL OF UNDERSTANDING
The goal is for your children to understand what your estate plan means for them, including what their involvement might look like. They may not necessarily agree but it is important for you to be able to explain the outline of your estate plan, and then listen to any concerns they may have, in an effort to understand. Remember this is a sensitive topic, and it is normal for different opinions to arise during the conversation.
DISCUSS THE ROLES
On a frequent basis, families create an estate plan and name a child as a trustee or executor, or another fiduciary. However, it is important to discuss the role and what is involved with them. Be sure to ask your kids if they are comfortable acting in these roles and review each role and what the responsibilities require. Refer to any notes you may have taken during your discussion with your estate planning attorney. Having your children involved in the process will be a big benefit in the future.
It may also be helpful to involve children in a meeting with your estate planning attorney. This gives them the opportunity to ask questions that will be easier for an experienced estate planning attorney to answer. It is up to you if you would like to share the details of your financial situation, but you should at least share enough so your children understand the need for the level of estate planning you have undertaken. Most importantly, sharing with your children what your money means to you, and why you are speaking with them about it, will help guide them in honoring your memory.
There are many reasons to discuss your estate plans with your children. While it is not an easy step to take, it is an important part in your estate planning process, and is one of the reasons why Legacy Counsellors offers to hold regular “Family Meetings” with our maintenance clients and their children (if clients wish to do so) During this meeting, we can talk generically about our clients’ assets to maintain their privacy, or we can discuss actual numbers if clients prefer, but just having the ability to have these discussions can go a long way in helping your children better understand your wishes. Contact Legacy Counsellors to talk with our Client Services Coordinators to learn more.