When to Tell “What’s in the Will?”

Most parents are reluctant to discuss with their adult children what’s in their estate plan. For some it’s a reminder of our mortality, others are concerned it may create bickering about who is getting what.
However, there can be significant advantages in an open discussion. One advantage is it can allow children to plan their lives, having some idea what they might inherit or whether they need to plan to be able to take care of their parents financially. In other cases children may have some good ideas for their parents and future planning.
Another reason is to work out potential disputes ahead of time. For example, when it comes to the family farm it can avoid future squabbles if children are told in advance what to expect. In some cases it can allow them to say what they want and allow their parents to make changes before they pass. The same can be true for collectibles or other items of a personal nature.
An open discussion can also improve quality of life for children before the parents pass. When both parties are open about their circumstances the parents may discover the best thing they can do is pass money to their children before they themselves pass. Gifting to children can ease financial concerns and allow children to more fully enjoy their lives. A relatively small annual gift can go a long way to ease financial stress.
Each family is different, but in most cases an honest discussion with adult children will benefit all parties.

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