How to discuss your estate plan with your children

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2022 | Estate Planning

You have spent some time thinking about your family, your personal property and the legacy that will remain when you die. You have decided on exactly how you want to divide your property and any lingering responsibilities after your death.

Now, you need to have an uncomfortable conversation with your children. After all, you want them to know what to expect and to support each other, not fight one another, during the administration of your estate.

How do you discuss estate planning decisions with your family members?

Respect the existing family dynamics

If you have a very strong relationship with two of your children and very little communication with the third, demanding a family sit-down meeting to discuss your estate plan and including all of them simultaneously probably isn’t the best approach. Conversing with each child separately may be a better option, especially if you don’t intend to equally split resources or obligations among your children.

You may want to consider talking with the child who will serve as the representative of your estate or your trustee first. On the other hand, if you choose to disinherit one of your children, you may want to have that unpleasant conversation first so that they don’t hear about it from their siblings before you talk to them.

Be honest and thorough

For a conversation about your estate plan to have the desired effect, you need to give your children an accurate understanding of what they can expect. Just telling them you drafted documents is far from enough. They should understand what they will receive from the estates and also what authority each of them will have to assume.

That way, they can express their concerns or frustrations to you now, rather than taking those emotions out on their siblings and dragging the estate into probate court later. Talking in detail about specific bequests and expectations will take the mystery and confusion out of the process.

When you let your loved ones know what to expect, they are far less likely to challenge your estate plan later due to dissatisfaction. Taking practical steps like talking to your children will make it easier for you to ensure that your estate plan has the desired impact.