It ranks up there with all-time uncomfortable conversations. Like when your mom dragged your 7-year-old tush back into the supermarket and made you confess to the manager that, “somehow” you had left the store without paying for that Snickers bar.
Or when you had to tell your boyfriend that he was no longer the love of your life.
Tell your kids about your estate plan
Talking with your family about your estate plan is a bullet many people try to dodge. It just feels so — awkward. Things that were once unspoken, at least to your children, are laid out, naked, for them to see. Stuff like how much money, property and assets you have (or don’t have). What you want to happen if you can’t take care of yourself. And who gets what when you die. Even the fact that, yes, you are going to die someday.
It’s no wonder people avoid these talks.
But avoiding them potentially opens the door to a world of headaches and heartache that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, much less on those you love.
A sad story
Consider what happened to a family we know.
Parents of some friends owned a lovely (if rustic!) piece of property in the beautiful San Juan Islands of the Puget Sound. It had been a delightful summer retreat for the family during the growing up years. However, as the children became adults, they gradually stopped visiting the property — except for our friends. They adored the island haven and would often visit it with their own children, along with their parents.
As the parents grew older, upkeep fell to our friends, who gladly rebuilt the dock, re-roofed the cabin, etc. It was understandable that the parents decided to leave this jewel of a property to our friends. Except they failed to mention it to their other children. Who found out by looking at public tax records (not sure why they would do this unless suspicions were already simmering …).
The family exploded.
The siblings wouldn’t speak to the parents (who were still alive at this time). And they especially wouldn’t speak to the sibling receiving the property. It’s been more than ten years and the family is still fractured.
Could such discord have been sidestepped if the parents had simply sat down with their children and shared their plans for their estate? Maybe. Maybe not. But, we can’t help but think of that old adage, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’
Some things are worth talking about. Your estate plan is one of them.
Watch for our next article that shares tips on talking about your estate plan with your family.
Advisory services are offered by Joslin Capital Advisors, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor.