How To Talk To Your Children About Your Estate Plans

How to Talk to Adult Children About Your Estate Plans

When it comes to talking with your adult children about your plans for your estate, earlier is better. Talking to your children now can help them plan for their own financial future and can let them know if they need to plan for your care or if their children’s college will be taken care of.

Updated on Nov 27 2019


When it comes to talking with your adult children about your plans for your estate, earlier is better. Talking to your children now can help them plan for their own financial future and can let them know if they need to plan for your care or if their children’s college will be taken care of. Estate planning is an unknown for many families - but it doesn’t have to be.

Having an open and honest conversation now can be difficult and even awkward, but it can save heartache, time, and even money down the road. These tips can help you get the conversation started and break down communication barriers that can cost you and your family health, wealth, and happiness later.

4 Tips for Talking to Family About Estate Planning

Choose the right time to have the conversation.

You will want to discuss estate planning well before a crisis mandates the conversation but you also do not want it to be random or out of the blue. Use milestone events like birthdays, anniversaries, or a change in your job to broach the subject. Take recent news about long-term care expenses and tie it in to your own wishes for your future. No matter what reason you have for having the conversation now, try and have everyone present for the conversation with limited distractions. Include adult grandchildren who are in your will but minor grandchildren do not need to be included. Follow up with an email or a letter to avoid any misunderstandings from the meeting. Ultimately, let your family know this is a serious conversation, but it’s not one that needs to be feared.

Be honest and forthcoming but also discreet.

Absolutely be honest about your expectations for what will happen to your estate and provide a framework for your children. However, you do not have to share exact numbers of what you plan to leave each child. Your children do not need to know how much you will make in retirement, how much you have saved, and how much they will inherit after your passing. They do need to know about your financial plan for long-term care and where you keep important documents like your will. If you anticipate conflict between family over your estate, it may be a good idea to let each person know who will inherit which assets, but again, exact financials are not necessary at this point.

Approach tough topics carefully and honestly.

In this conversation, you will want to make clear any wishes you have for end of life care, do not resuscitate orders, and funeral plans. This can be very hard for adult children to hear. Be sensitive to their feelings but also be honest about your wishes to avoid any miscommunication in a crises.

Stay positive and be proactive.

Your family will follow your lead so stay positive and upbeat, letting your family know that you have thought about your future and planned accordingly. Let them know you are at peace with the decisions you have made. Staying positive and proactive in your estate planning can help avoid family conflict down the road. Consider contacting a fiduciary financial advisor and having her or him attend the family meeting. They can help your family sort through any disagreements and help adult children understand the importance of preparing for end of life expenses.

Get Expert Help

If you are planning for the financial future of your family, contact a fiduciary financial advisor. A fiduciary financial advisor is legally and ethically obligated to put your interests ahead of his or her own. As a trusted partner, financial advisors can help you create and execute an estate plan that makes your wishes known and kept.

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