Family is the subject of the season. It is a time for getting together and celebrating the blessings we have in life. Watching your children succeed in life is one of the greatest joys anyone can experience. Of course, you were there to support them along the way.
As a parent, you want to continue to help your children long after you are gone. You want it to be fair for each of them, which is why you put extensive thought into your estate and had an attorney draft each word carefully.
Up to this point, your estate plan has probably been a personal matter. You took stock of what you own and could own. You know your liabilities. You worked with the attorney. Then, you stop to think about who will benefit from the terms of your last will and testament. Your children will, so should you tell them about your plans instead of waiting for them to find out when your will is read?
As personal as your estate planning has been up to this point, so is the answer to that question. You need to decide what is best for your family, but here are a few reasons why many attorneys suggest talking to your kids.
- You can help your kids anticipate: You know kids can react in ways you did not expect. If you assign one the executor of your finances and leave another without responsibility, and without a reason as to why, they make assumptions. They might see it as disparate treatment, when maybe you didn’t want to put that burden on your second child’s shoulders.
- You have time to adjust the plan: We just mentioned that you can’t always know how your children will react. You can’t always know what they will think – or what they want. Do you know your eldest daughter wants the antique hutch? If you don’t talk about it, you could create a plan that sounds great in your mind but doesn’t work in application. By then, it’s too late to change it.
- You can set expectations: Children make assumptions too. If you talk to them about what they are or are not going to get, there are no surprises.
- You can explain your choices: If you helped one child more than another during life, you can let them know that is the reason why the dollar amounts of their inheritances are not the same.
These are just a few reasons why talking to the kids is a good idea. If you decide it is, then the next step is to determine whether you think it best to address the issue as a family or talk to each child individually.