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  • Writer's pictureCook Tillman

How to talk to your adult children about your estate plan

While your children are young, you may choose not to share specifics of your will with them. However, once they are old enough to understand the complexities of your estate plan, you may choose to discuss the conditions of the document with them.

This will prepare their expectations in case tragedy strikes. Here are a few tips for this conversation.

Have a sit-down discussion

The way things will be managed after your passing is a very serious topic. If your child has always had you to look to for guidance and comfort, then it’s important that you prepare him or her to handle the seriousness of the situation when you’re not there to help.

Try sitting down with your child to initiate the conversation. This will make an impression on your child, which can help keep him or her from being caught off guard if a tragic situation happens.

Talk numbers

When discussing your estate plan, it’s important to be clear about the assets they should expect to inherit. Leaving out numbers and being vague about this expectation has led to fighting among beneficiaries.

Being specific about inheritance ahead of time can keep someone from thinking they should be entitled to more than they got. Otherwise, this thinking can result in extended probate proceedings and lasting family feuds.

Establish roles

You should also set your children’s expectations for who will handle what upon your passing. Go over the possible scenarios of who would handle which roles if you pass, your spouse passes or there is a medical emergency.

That means discussing who you are appointing to handle your financial and healthcare decisions if you become incapacitated. In this discussion, you may want to mention your views on whether you’d like to receive life-support in a medical emergency.

You should also address who should be the executor of your estate and express any wishes you have about how you’d like your child to spend their inheritance. By going through specifics such as these, your adult children will have a clear picture of your wishes and how your will reflects them.

Remember it’s your will

You may find that your children have objections to some of your decisions. It’s important to remember that your will is all about what you want. For example, you should put money in your pet fund or donate to charity if that’s what you want to do, despite your child’s opinion.

However, you should also respect how involved your children want to be. For example, if your child does not want to be your executor or take care of your pet after your passing, you shouldn’t appoint them for these duties.


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