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Involving Children in Planning Your Estate


Children in Estate PlanningShould you discuss your estate plans with your adult or nearly adult children? There are many benefits to discussing it with your children. Talking about your estate plan with your children can eliminate any surprises after you die. This helps to ensure family harmony long after you are gone.

When speaking with your children, you can explain why you have planned the way you did. This will make it easier for your children, as well as the planning professionals who may be left with the task of explaining what you were trying to accomplish through your estate plan after you are gone. Some children may feel slighted because they were not named as Executor or Trustee. However, there may be very good reasons for why that child was not named. Frequently, children will regard unequal treatment in an estate plan as a statement of their parents love or lack thereof. This, of course, is usually far from the truth. Sometimes parents wish to provide more for a child who needs more help, and less to children who are more successful. In a situation like this it is imperative that you communicate your reasoning with your children. If there is no communication between parents and children on the parents’ estate plan, it is often left up to the imagination of the children. By sharing your plans with them you can ensure family harmony long after you are gone.

We often invite our clients to bring their children in. Children can be involved in the process by discussing Executor and Trustee selections with you. This gets them involved and makes them feel like their opinion has worth, which will reap dividends for many years to come. Your kids should know (or at least know how to contact) your life insurance representative, financial planners, accountants, and attorneys. Parents should try to introduce these professionals to their children. When they do meet, note how the advisors respond. Their response to your children will be a good indicator as to how helpful these advisors will be to your children in the future.

Planning for your most important asset, your children, is a complicated process. You have to do a lot of soul searching. After all, you are choosing the person who will replace you should the unthinkable happen. Parents of minor children face several unique challenges. Remember, planning is the key. Extra care needs to be used when crafting a plan that involves minor children.


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