It is essential for adult children to know about the estate plans of their parents.
There are many changes associated with having adult children.
You have seen them begin careers and start families.
You have moved from the role of provider and protector as they have assumed these responsibilities for themselves.
Despite these milestones, it can be hard to view them as adults.
According to a recent US News & World Report article titled “Discuss Your Estate Plan With Your Children,” seeing your children as the responsible adults they are will benefit your estate plan.
One way parents treat their adult children as if they were minors is by not discussing their estate plan with them.
Whether you have appointed one child or multiple children as executor or trustee, they will be clueless if you fail to discuss your wishes and their attending responsibilities with them.
Asking your adult children if they are comfortable with the role of health care agent, attorney in fact (i.e., the financial agent under a general durable power of attorney), executor, or trustee is the best place to start.
Explain the expectations and responsibilities associated with each role.
Some of these responsibilities are commonly not explained in detail within your estate planning documents.
This makes having a conversation with your children an essential estate planning step.
Another important aspect to cover is the location of your documents and valuables.
If these are stored in a safe deposit box or a fireproof safe, your adult children will need access to these to fulfill their roles.
Consequently, make sure one or more of your children are formally identified as having current and future access to your safe deposit box.
In addition, they will need to know the combination to the safe (even if they are professional safecrackers, just to be sure).
Provide information on the titling and ownership of accounts at various financial institutions.
This is essential if bills are to be paid should you become incapacitated.
What should you do if your children are minors?
It may still be beneficial for you to discuss your estate plan with them at their level of understanding.
Your children are your legacy and sharing your values and wisdom will benefit them in the future.
When discussing your estate plan with your minor children, you should include your successor trustees and your guardians in the conversation.
If your adult or minor children have questions, your experienced estate planning attorney will be able to provide answers in the context of your overall estate plan.
Although talking about estate planning can be uncomfortable (after all, it concerns matters of morbidity and mortality), your adult children will be better equipped to honor your wishes after having a discussion.
Question: who is going to reach out first?
Reference: US News & World Report (Feb. 17, 2021) “Discuss Your Estate Plan With Your Children”