Do you tell your adult children about your estate plans?
If so, how much and when?
If not, why?
The Role of your Adult Children
Some clients want to have their adult children be involved in their Estate Planning. It may be that they want the adult children involved from the beginning of the design and the implementation of the Estate Plan. More often it is after the Estate Plan is in place that they want their adult children to know what their roles are. They then let those adult children know that they will act as Successor Trustees or Health Care Agents.
What about the Assets? Should they know the value of what you have?
Some clients are fine to let their adult children know what their assets are. Most seem to not want to share the value of what they own with their adult children. Often adult children will see their parent’s money as their own money as pointed out in the book “The Millionaire Next Door”.
How Do You Inform the Adult Children of Their Roles?
There are several ways that the adult children can know and understand how their parents’ Estate Plan works and what their role in that plan is. Sometimes it is in the form of a “Family Meeting™”.
Another way that the roles can be done is in some form of Group Meeting.
The Family Meeting™
“The Family Meeting™” is where the experienced Estate Planning Attorney meets with their clients and their adult children alone. At this meeting, you may go into specifics as to what happens if there is Mental Disability by one of the adult parents. You review how the mechanism for Mental Disability Planning becomes operational.
You often review what happens when the first spouse passes on and how the surviving spouse is taken care of. You also may go into what happens if there is a re-marriage by the surviving spouse or how lawsuit protection comes into play.
Then you may go into what happens after both of the parents are deceased. You review how the assets are distributed and whether or not they are distributed in a protective nature. You may also review whether or not assets run down the bloodline to that adult child’s children in the event that adult child has passed on.
You may go into what their roles are in Health Care situations. Who has authority to authorize medical treatment in the event the parent is unconscious? Who has access to medical information? What happens if the client is at the end of life crossroads?
Again, the clients may want to advise the adult child of the value of their assets and how they are held. Many clients do not want those asset values disclosed.
Nuts & Bolts Workshop™
At the law firm of Steven Andrew Jackson, we host an Group Meeting we call “Nuts & Bolts Workshop™” at holidays. We hold these popular workshops at the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays because that is when loved ones and adult children are in town with their parents. We do these workshops in a group setting which provides a more informal setting where people often feel more comfortable and less pressured. They are for our clients that are in our formal update process known as “The Life Plan System™”, which is part of our “The Unique Protective Estate Planning Solution™”.
In the workshop we review how certain elements of the Estate Plan work:
- how the Estate Plans work
- how the Trusts work, and
- how the Sub-Trusts work
- how the Mental Disability Planning works
We also look at how the surviving spouse is cared and provided for and what happens to assets. We discuss:
- remarriage and lawsuit protection for the surviving spouse
- what happens after the surviving spouse passes on
- whether or not the assets are left in a protective nature for the adult child to provide protection for them in the event of squander, divorce, or car wreck lawsuit.
- whether or not their assets go down to that adult child’s children if the adult child predeceases their parents.
We also cover how the Health Care legal authorities work and in what circumstances someone has legal authority to authorize medical treatment for an unconscious parent. We also discuss who has access to medical information, and what happens at the very difficult End of Life crossroads.
Summary – You Decide
It is up to you, the client. You decide how much information you want your loved ones to have. You may have some adult children you want very involved in the Estate Planning process and others that you do not want involved at all.
My mother use to tell me when they were updating their Estate Plan, “If you tell your brother and sister what we are worth, I will kill you”. Some parents do not want to be pushed regarding inheritances or what they own. Often those clients grew up in the depression era and lived a much leaner life than their adult children have.
Each family is different. Each client is different. Each client is different in what they want their adult children to know. Also, the reliability of the adult children is different. Therefore, the client may provide the responsible adult child with more information. The more elderly and infirm the client is the more they may lean on and need the adult child’s assistance. Therefore, the responsible adult child will need more information.
Our goal in all of this is to meet the family’s individual needs in regards to their own individual “Customized Protective Estate Plan™”. That the Plan must fit their needs and their family. That includes sharing or not sharing information with their adult children.
At the Law Firm of Steven Andrew Jackson, Attorney and Counsellor at Law, we have helped hundreds of families protect themselves and their loved ones, avoid Estate Taxes and Probate Costs, and keep their Estate Plans current with the law through The Customized Protective Estate Planning Solution™.