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Talking to Your Adult Children About Estate Plans

Discussing estate plans or end-of-life wishes can be uncomfortable for a lot of people. But there are unfortunate consequences of not having these conversations with loved ones, so it is wise to talk about estate planning with them – especially your adult children.

Below are some tips for talking to your adult children about your estate plan as well as what you can do to encourage them to create their own.

Discussing your plan

Adult children are often in a position to inherit property from parents, make difficult medical decisions, and carry out a parent’s final wishes. As such, explaining what your wishes are in these areas will be crucial. It allows them to ask questions and make sure they understand what you want, which can alleviate the burden of having to guess what you would have wanted.

When you are discussing your plan, you should:

  • Set aside time to be uninterrupted and free from distractions.
  • Explain who will make decisions for you and why you chose that person or persons.
  • Listen to their concerns or objections.
  • Discuss your wishes, as well as your motivation behind them (i.e. are you giving away money because you value charitable giving or because you want your children to create their own legacy?).
  • Be especially mindful of explaining any unexpected or unusual clauses in your plan, as these can create the most controversy.

Helping them create their own

As a recent Forbes article notes, by having your own estate plan in place, you are demonstrating the value of planning to your family. This can make it easier to talk to your adult children about creating their own plan.

Other tips for parents include:

  • Explaining that they will have more confidence in leaving a child a gift if he or she also has a plan.
  • Discussing the various elements worth protecting in an estate plan (e.g. children, property, medical wishes, philanthropic goals).
  • Asking why they may not have or want to create an estate plan.
  • Withholding judgment and instead of offering supportive resources.
  • Approaching discussions thoughtfully, maturely, and cooperatively.

These tips can allow you to have a frank, honest and productive discussion with your children about estate planning. In the long run, this could be one of the most valuable gifts you can give them.