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Investing Specialists

Estate Planning: More Than a Bunch of Documents

Communicate early and often with your family about what to expect after you’re gone.

Like many people, my husband and I recently went through the process of (belatedly) getting our estate plans in order. Facing the reality of our eventual deaths and the potential impact on our family has been a sobering experience--and one we’re still working through. All the relevant documents have been signed, sealed, and delivered (neatly organized by our attorney in a handy binder), but the process doesn’t end there. For us, getting the formal documents finalized was important, but we realize that communicating about our plans and values around money is equally important. In this article, I’ll share some of my thought process on sharing information with young adult children about estate plans and eventual wealth transitions in the family.

Consider Age and Readiness
If your children are still under the age of 18, there’s probably no need to delve into great detail about how your estate plans are set up. Children who are curious or prone to anxiety might be reassured to know the plans for who would take care of them if their parents suddenly weren’t able to, but otherwise, it’s more important to have regular discussions about the role of money--how to save, how to spend, and how to align your finances with your values. Much of this can be done by example or by involving children in family budgeting tasks.