Deborah L. Jacobs, author of a new book, Estate Planning Smarts, has an article in the New York Times about the importance of parents talking with their adult children about their estate planning. These talks can be difficult to start but the benefits are worth it. The article includes examples of situations where having the talk was critical to avoiding later problems. Jacobs also includes tips on how to get started if either party is uncomfortable with the topic.
Reasons to talk: Parents may improve their plans with suggestions from their children. Children can be more accepting of a plan they may not like if they understand a parent’s reasons for certain decisions. The best practice is to have no surprises after a parent passes away. A child’s grief and shock at a parent’s loss can be made more difficult when mixed with anger and resentment at an unexpected or unfavorable testamentary plan.
Even the most harmonious family relationships can dissolve into hostility and conflict after a parent’s death. A discussion about a parent’s estate plan, or a series of discussions, can go a long way toward preventing family strife in situations where the children are not all treated equally. Take the time to talk.