According to the 2018 Wells Fargo Elder Needs Survey, 57% of parents and 32% of grown children don’t feel estate planning is an urgent need. And those who do have plans hesitate to share them, especially with children of varying ages and maturity levels. Even with grown children, parents are often hesitant to share sensitive information about finances and estate planning.
But having these conversations can prevent grieving heirs from having to locate important documents or to interpret your wishes. In addition, discussing estate plans early on can help beneficiaries plan for their future more effectively, managing their expectations for what may or may not come their way.
While the potential benefits may be clear, starting the conversation can be difficult. Here are some tips:
- Schedule a specific time for the discussion. Make sure you have adequate time to share details and allow time for questions.
- Share the goals behind the plan along with its structure—like how assets will flow when the plan is implemented. See infographic below for the ways different assets are treated.
- Focus on the main objectives of providing clarity and preventing potential discord, while being true to your comfort level with the amount of detail you want to share.
- Outline key roles and documents. Plan to share the identity of your executor or trustee as well as the location of important documents, such as power of attorney, living will, and healthcare power of attorney.
For guidance in designing a family meeting about your estate plan, talk to your wealth advisor and estate attorney. Also, if having a face-to-face discussion is difficult, write a letter that can be left with your estate planning documents to clarify your wishes to all beneficiaries as well as executor and trustee.