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How to tell your adult children your estate planning wishes

Talking about money, especially in detail, is something many people consider rude. Even when with their own families, they may shy away from discussing it. However, not being explicit about money and your estate plan could set your family up for problems in the future.

If your family members don’t know what you intend, they may develop highly unrealistic expectations. Telling your adult children about your wishes for your estate can reduce the likelihood of unhappiness and fighting after you die. How should you have this discussion with your adult children?

It is usually best to discuss the issue with everyone at once

Discussions about estate planning can lead to conflict and intense emotional reactions. Some people don’t want to consider their parents’ mortality. Others will immediately feel disappointed because they already had unrealistic expectations.

You don’t have to disclose your exact financial status, but you do want to indicate your general plan. Telling everyone at once how you want to handle things, whether it’s an even split or giving specific assets to certain people, will make sure that everyone in the family understands.

Additionally, by having a conversation with everyone at once, you minimize the risk of people feeling like favoritism played a role in your decisions.

When should you have the talk?

The sooner you start having these difficult discussions with your family, the more time they will have to adjust their expectations to the reality of your wishes. You may want to tell your children about your estate plan as soon as you commit your will to writing. Talking with your children when you make changes or when your health declines might also be a good decision.

By taking control of the process and informing your family about your wishes, you can help avoid conflict and improve the chances of your family upholding your estate plan after you die.