For individuals who take comfort in knowing that they are doing the right thing for their loved ones, drafting an estate plan is a fairly painless process. Sitting down with an estate planning attorney, outlining your wishes for end-of-life care, and figuring out how your assets will be distributed after you are gone may not be the most exciting way to spend an afternoon…but it does provide an unparalleled level of peace of mind. However, while the estate planning process itself is fairly straightforward, speaking about these matters with your children can be anything but…
Here are a few suggestions about how to broach this topic with your adult children:
The Open and Transparent Approach
Although this is the recommended method, it may not be a viable option for every family. Some adult children do not feel comfortable talking about money matters. Others may feel uneasy bringing up issues related to death and, especially, incapacity, as this can be scary for your children to envision.
Taking an open and transparent approach is easier if you have already decided that one or more of your children will be named estate executor or trustee. Naturally, this must be communicated to your children, which opens the door to a conversation about how, frankly, you need their help. Tell them why you think they would be perfect for this role, and be sure to underscore that their performance in this role will ultimately benefit the entire family.
Before getting into the details of the estate plan, tell your children how much you appreciate their cooperation, and give them a heartfelt “thank you.”
The Matter-of-Fact Approach
Countless families reached out to estate planning attorneys during the Coronavirus pandemic. This was directly related to the fact that we were confronted with our own mortality just about each time we checked the news or our social media feeds. If this is what moved you towards estate planning, you could take advantage of the momentum and talk to your children about your plan using the pandemic as a frame.
The key to using this approach is to qualify what you are about to say. You can bring up the pandemic, discuss a recent death in the community, or share a news report that reminds us about the uncertainty of life. The next step is to tie this fact of life to your estate plan. This is not a tricky approach at all—what you are explaining is based on the facts you shared in order to “break the ice.”
Let Your Estate Planning Attorney Handle It
If your children are estranged, or if family friction prevents reasonable communication, your estate planning law firm may be able to help. The best person to explain your plan is the legal professional who helped you set it up. When choosing this approach, you can either be present at the meeting, or let your children meet with your attorney on their own.
It’s important for your adult children to know which tasks they will be responsible for, should your health take a sudden turn for the worse, or after you pass away. It’s equally important to share your wishes for asset distribution, and explain certain decisions so that there is no animosity or tension when it comes time to administer your estate.
At Barry Law, LLC, we regularly work with families, helping to ensure a seamless estate planning and administration process. Contact our firm today to learn more about the services we offer, and get started with a plan that will serve your family for a long time to come.
The best way to determine whether you need a will or a trust (or both) is through consult with a qualified estate planning attorney. David J. Barry of Barry Law, LLC welcomes the opportunity to discuss your needs. Please contact us using the brief form below, or by contacting us at (913) 336-1600.