If you have adult children, youve probably done some planning about what youd like to leave for them when youre gone. You may even have a will and keep your paperwork and electronic files in places they know how to access.
Many parents, however, have not actually talked to their older or adult children about their retirement years and end-of-life financial plans. Its a subject that many find intimidating and uncomfortable. Or you may think your children dont want to have such a conversation about that eventual day just yet.
If youre a good planner, take it to the next level and talk with your adult children about your plans and how they should carry out your wishes. The last thing you want to leave them with is uncertainty or possible disputes because of unanswered questions.
Its a given that talking about what will happen to your family after you pass or become incapacitated is not an easy topic to face. But its extremely important to have that conversation to foster your relationship with your children now and to give them peace of mind in the future, when youre gone.
Decide What Your Adult Children Need to Know
They really dont need all of the details of your financial state. You don’t have to share how much money youll earn in your retirement years, how much youve saved, and how much you plan to spend each year. They do need to know if you have a financial plan for nursing or other long-term care or medical treatment should the time come for them to step in as caregivers.
Tell them where you keep key legal and financial documents, how to access electronic files and how to contact your financial advisor, lawyer or estate planner. Let them know what funds will be available from life insurance for funeral arrangements and other financial business theyll need to manage.
Let them know who will receive what assets from your estate – insurance payouts, investments, and property or business interests, if that applies. Covering these points is particularly important if you anticipate possible conflict among your children.
Be Open and Honest
Meet with your children in person, if possible. Or discuss your decisions over the phone if necessary. Exclude minor grandchildren from the conversation, but include adult grandchildren who are named in your will. Let your family know in advance that you want to talk about your finances, your estate and your end-of-life planning. It’s smart not to blindside anyone with this type of conversation. If you foresee a congenial meeting, you could plan to meet with your children as a group. If you anticipate any issues arising, arrange individual meetings with them. Follow up in writing with details you discussed, so theres no misunderstanding.
Cover the Touchy Subjects
If youre dividing your property unequally among your children, disclose those plans and your reasoning behind them. If you have family heirlooms, discuss how you will divide your treasures.
Revealing such details now may cause a heated debate. Its better to have those discussions now, when they can be upset with you, than later, when theyll end up being angry at each other and possibly estranged for years to come.
Include Your Caregiving Wishes
Most seniors, about 70 percent, will require some type of long-term care as they reach an advanced age. During your meeting with your children, discuss any financial plans youve made for nursing care. Let them know if you prefer a retirement community or plan to stay in your own home as long as possible. Include who will have financial and medical oversight for you if youre incapacitated.
Appoint one of your children or another trusted relative as your durable power of attorney. This is written authorization allowing that person to make financial and legal decisions for you if youre incapacitated.
Include discussion about your end-of-life wishes. Talk about what to do if you need hospice care, should it be at home or in a medical facility. Talk about what kind of funeral you would like to have and how your family should celebrate your life. Let them know if you have a living will and where they can access it, and if you have made your own funeral arrangements.
Keep It on the Bright Side
An end-of-life family discussion is no reason to get depressed or for adult kids to go into premature mourning. You may need to remind them you’re still here and functioning well. Try to inject a little humor if that suits your personality, or perhaps an uplifting, faith-based approach if your family is religious. Smile and present a positive outlook during the meeting.
Allow all present to ask questions or possibly to make suggestions. Your initial meeting doesnt have to be the final word. And you can update your plans as needed and inform your children with the changes. Consider ending the discussion with a family dinner at home or a restaurant. Make a special toast to the occasion, which is bound to be memorable for all involved.
Happy end-of-life planning and best wishes for a long, happy and profitable future for you and your heirs.
Why Estate Planning Is for Everybody