The Other “Talk”: Discuss Inheritance With Your Kids.

The Other “Talk”:

Discuss Inheritance With Your Kids


Talking about estate plans is a conversation that many don’t want to have. Get some ideas that may help you with the discussion.

You’ve saved. You’ve invested. You’ve worked hard. You may have a sizable nest egg that you want to leave for your family. You may have even set up a trust or created a will. Now it’s time for the hard part: talking to your family about these plans.

One Key to a Strong Financial Plan—Sharing It

It’s a conversation that can bring up many unwanted emotions. But difficult as it can be, it’s important to share your plan with family now to avoid conflict later. 


Here are some tips to help you have a more successful conversation, without it becoming too dour or creating strife among your loved ones.

Explain Where Everything Is

By the time you’ve built enough wealth to retire, you may have multiple accounts. You may have a 401(k), individual retirement account (IRA), insurance plans and brokerage accounts.

If you have an executor, make sure they know the location of every account. The more transparency, the less opportunity for confusion or others to potentially second-guess the executor. If you don’t have an executor, consider providing this information to a family member.

Don’t feel pressured to share the account totals. That’s a personal decision, based on family dynamics. But if you plan to leave one family member with a larger share of your wealth, you may want to explain your reasoning. You’re not obliged to do this, but it may reduce resentment if your children understand your thinking. The goal is to lessen the likelihood of surprises down the line.

Discuss What Goes to Whom

As you sit down to discuss your estate plan, spend time to go through items in the house and heirlooms that you want to pass down. You could also ask each child or loved one to identify the top two or three possessions they would like to have.

Once you’ve made your decisions and everyone knows which items will go to whom, lay out a strategy to address the less-wanted stuff. Do you want your children to sell it and split the money? Do you want them to donate your unwanted things? Discuss now to avoid disagreements later.

Outline Your Funeral Wishes

A trust or will may not leave much room for detailed funeral wishes. Families often look towards these documents for guidance only to find that they’re not included. This may be an additional source of stress during an already difficult time. 

To prepare your family, you could outline your wishes about a funeral during conversations about inheritance. If you have funds set aside for the funeral, make sure your heirs know where to find them. Have you taken steps, like buying your plot, to fund the funeral before you’re gone? Let them know where it’s located. Also detail any special requests you might have.

Write It Down

If this topic feels too heavy to discuss in person, consider writing down your directions. During conversations about inheritance, tell your family where to find your funeral wishes.


Plan for Disagreements

No matter how much planning you do, questions will arise once you’re gone. You simply can’t plan for every contingency. Instead of letting these questions turn into disagreements, come up with a strategy to handle such situations.

If you have two children who will handle the estate, give them a way to decide. Maybe they can take turns on who decides what. Or maybe it’s a flip of a coin. If you have more children, you may suggest they take a vote. Also make sure to explain who you want in the conversations. Do you just want your kids to make these decisions? Do you want their significant others included? If you have a will or trust, the executor or trustee will be the ultimate decision maker. Whatever the case may be, let them know now.

While you can’t control what happens, you may at least provide your children with the clearest path to help ease estate planning disputes. That way your estate is used to build up your family, not to fracture it.

If you haven’t gotten started on an estate plan, you may want to talk with an estate planning specialist to discuss what’s best for your specific situation. 


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This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.

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