Talking to your children about your estate plan
A key part of the smooth implementation of your estate plan is having a conversation with your children where you are open and transparent about your plan. Having this conversation with them can help prevent future conflicts and can give them more confidence to know what to do when needed. Although it might be much easier said than done, avoiding these difficult conversations or keeping your estate plan a secret can have major repercussions.
Here are some important topics to cover with your children when talking about your estate plan:
1. You should communicate with your children that you have an estate plan, and tell them where you keep the original documents.
In the event of your death or incapacity, it’s important that your children know what type of estate planning documents you have signed and what their purpose is. You’ll want to let them know if you have signed a health care power of attorney and living will that communicates your beliefs and wishes when it comes to end of life care. If you have created a trust, you should inform them of the purpose of the trust as well as your intentions for distributing the trust.
When you pass away, in order to open an estate and submit your last will and testament for probate, your original will is needed. Make sure your children know where your will is located and how to get to it so they do not waste time searching for it.
2. You should communicate with your children regarding the assets that comprise your estate and specific expectations for how those assets shall be divided upon your passing.
If there is any possibility that one of your children may need to step in to manage your finances or pay your bills in the event of your incapacity or death, it’s important that you give that child the information they would need to access your accounts and pay the bills.
Also, directly sharing your wishes for the division of your estate upon your death can help avoid conflict among your beneficiaries. This is especially important if, for whatever reason, you are not dividing your estate evenly.
3. You should communicate with your children why you picked the executor, trustee, agent for power of attorney that you did.
Explaining to your children why you chose an individual to be your executor, trustee, or agent can help to maintain family harmony. Children may often feel left out or upset if they were not picked for the role of executor, trustee, or agent. Knowing why you made the decision that you did may help them to understand or be more accepting of the choice that you made.
Although this type of conversation may be very uncomfortable for those involved, talking to your children about the decisions you have made for your estate plan can prevent future difficulty and make things go more peacefully for everyone in the long run. A trusted advisor can also help facilitate this conversation.
For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.