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How to talk to your children about your estate plan

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2021 | Probate & Estate Planning |

If you have created a Pennsylvania estate plan, you might think that your work is done. However, you may need to discuss your plan with your adult children.

Who to talk to

You first need to decide how much you want to share with them, and this will depend on your family situation and on your children. At a minimum, you need to talk to the people who have roles in your estate plan. These are presumably people you trust enough to be in charge of your health and assets. Your executor, any trustees and people who have a power of attorney for your health care or finances should be informed. Your loved ones should also know where to find the relevant documents. This includes a living will, if you have one. A living will outlines your wishes for health care if you are incapacitated, and this includes end-of-life care.

How much to talk about

You may also want to think about how your family will react to a discussion about the estate plan. Talking to adult children about the plan can help them prepare for what they will do with their inheritance, and issues like funeral arrangements. It can also help them better understand the reasons why you have made certain decisions. For example, you may have decided to leave more money to a child who has a lower-paying job and fewer of their own assets, and less to a child who has a rich spouse. On the other hand, some may not handle the knowledge about what they are going to receive well. They might be careless with the money that they do have, assuming that they will be getting an inheritance later. There are potential solutions to leaving an inheritance for irresponsible loved ones, such as creating a trust that only allows distributions at certain milestones.

You might want to talk to your children individually or have a family meeting. Some people bring in their lawyer, a financial planner, or a counselor to discuss estate planning issues with family members. Above all, you should try to make the choices that best suit your family.