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Should you include your adult children in your estate planning?

Many parents, particularly those close to their adult children, feel inclined to rely on them and welcome their participation and input in their lives, especially with sensitive matters like estate planning. Some adult children appreciate this closeness with their parents and want what is best for them. However, “what is best” can mean two completely different things for each sibling when there is more than one child.

Including your adult children in estate planning discussions

The benefits of including your children in these talks and conversations are that they will know what will happen when you pass, and your choices will not surprise them. It may also avoid problems between siblings after you pass, when you are not there to answer questions or clarify concerns about your assets and wishes.

Informative vs. collaborative conversation

Suppose you choose to include your children in these discussions. In that case, there are ways to approach it calmly and carefully so that the conversation does not cause unnecessary fear or worry.

Decide whether your approach will be informative or collaborative. In involving your children, you may decide to inform them of your wishes and what will happen after your passing.

In contrast, you can choose the collaborative route and include them in the decision-making process while finalizing your will and potentially other estate planning documents or tools. However, parents may find this problematic depending on family dynamics, including whether there is more than one child and grandchildren. Remember, you are in control of leading the conversation.

Opening the lines of communication

Having an open and honest conversation about your estate planning, whether informative or collaborative with your children, can be highly beneficial. It can prevent issues and misunderstandings when you are no longer there to explain the reasoning behind your decisions.

Lastly, it is helpful to leave some room for questions. Your kids may want to know more about a specific topic. Suppose you have provided the right environment for the conversation, a comfortable environment. In that case, they will feel at ease and free to ask whatever questions they have about your plans.