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3 Tips on Estate Planning Conversations to Have with Your Children

By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

Estate planning is a very personal thing to accomplish for an individual or couple. Haven’t been an attorney practicing estate planning for over 17 years I’ve come to realize that talking about Estate Planning and getting it accomplished are difficult things for many people. Once an estate plan is completed, many people are hesitant to talk to others about their estate planning. Understandable that people would want to keep their lives private, however, here are 3 tips on the estate planning conversations that you could and probably should have with your children.

1. YOUR ESTATE PLAN IS YOUR PROPERTY

As was mentioned above, estate planning is very personal. I always start with the 1st tip which is telling my clients that their estate planning is their own property. When a parent brings a child into a meeting with me dealing with their estate planning, I always inform my client that the estate planning is their property. I also inform them that without their permission I cannot discuss or released copies of their estate planning to any individual regardless of who it is.

Many people are pleased to know that their estate planning is protected. However keeping your estate planning protected and secret from everybody, including your children, may not be the best thing. This leads to the next step.

2. YOU CAN HELP YOUR CHILDREN SUCCEED

Tip 2 is for you to consider the things that you can do to help your children succeed in carrying out your estate planning. Most individuals name their spouse first to serve in capacities of personal representative and/or power of attorney. However, almost all people then name their children in some capacity as successors.

Your goal is to help your children succeed in carrying out your estate planning wishes. One of the easiest ways that this can be accomplished is by sitting down with your children and giving them a copy of your estate planning and discussing your estate planning with them. If the first time your children see your estate plan is when you die, it will be much more difficult for them to succeed in carrying out your wishes. At that time they will be dealing with the emotional impact of your death, and many other issues surrounding your death including financial obligations, paying off creditors, and simply dealing with the functions of distributing your estate. By allowing your children to review your estate Plan before you passed away, your children will be familiar with your wishes, and it will be much easier for them emotionally, and physically to accomplish your plan.

3. AN UPDATED ESTATE PLAN MEANS UPDATING YOUR CHILDREN

As was set forth in a previous block, life is not static. The only constant is change. More than likely, you will update your estate plan at least once or more than that after it is completed. Anytime you update your estate plan you should then update your children and help them be aware of the changes that have been made.

There are countless times that I have had clients inform their children about their estate plan, and then make several changes to it and not talk to their children about it. Then when the parent dies, the children are shocked and surprised to see the many changes that were made to the estate plan that they were unaware of. So the final tip is that anytime you update your estate planning, you should be willing to update and inform your children about those changes so that there are no surprises.

If you have questions or concerns about the conversations that you should have with your children about your estate planning, or if you would like to complete an estate plan, we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at lve@racinelaw.net. We will answer your Idaho Estate Planning questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer for advice on specific legal issues.

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