An important issue, whether discussing plans with elderly parents or adult children, is to make sure all important documents are in one place, and that everyone knows where they are. Many estates take much longer to settle than necessary because documents are misplaced or their whereabouts are unknown.
When it comes to discussing your own plans with your children, you may be reluctant to share the details of your finances or risk conflict or hurt feelings among them. However, the majority of conflicts happen as a result of failure to communicate.
If you are confident that your parents have saved, invested, and planned wisely, you may not have much of a role, other than to help them keep open lines of communication with you and other family members about their intentions. Keep in mind that any conversation with elderly parents needs to be focused on them and their intentions, not your own needs or desires. An inheritance is a gift, not a right, and estate planning is about enabling your parents to have control rather than abdicating their wishes to the government or another third party. If you have concerns that they haven’t protected their assets, you may need to begin a conversation with them.
As the holidays approach, many families look forward to the opportunity for multiple generations to come together to share a meal and celebrate the season. This is a time to take a break from the everyday routines of school and work, to share old memories and create new ones.
Having multiple generations together can, let’s face it, also be the cause of some stress. Many people make plans to discuss family estate planning and other financial arrangements during this time of togetherness. These conversations have the potential to be awkward for a variety of reasons. It forces people to consider their mortality, it brings up family dynamics that may be uncomfortable, and discussions of personal finances can feel intrusive. In fact, surveys show that the majority of Americans rarely discuss estate planning with their families.
However, if you can communicate now with your parents about their intentions, or with your adult children about your own, you may be able to avoid future confusion and bad will among family members. Below are some tips for discussing estate planning within the generations of your family.
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The information on this website may address some questions, but is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of the topic or legal advice.
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