The holidays are a time for expressing your gratitude and showing your loved ones just how much they mean to you. While you may show your appreciation by purchasing gifts or spending quality time with your loved ones, creating an estate plan and sharing that legacy with your children is one of the best gifts you can give. You may be struggling, however, to approach this topic with your children. We know this can be a challenging conversation to have, which is why we want to share some advice about having this discussion while you are with your children over the holiday season.
First, set the framework for a productive conversation by briefly asking your children to set some time aside whenever is convenient to discuss this important topic. We recommend that you prepare ahead of time and have a plan for how you want the conversation to proceed. You likely know your children better than anyone. Think about how you believe they will react and the questions and concerns they may bring up during the conversation. By preparing for this ahead of time, you can consider your answers and can help keep the conversation from getting sidetracked.
Next, allow your children some time to process the information that you are telling them. The holidays can be an emotional time. Your children may have a negative reaction, for example, if you are leaving more to one child than another. On the other hand, your children may be taken aback by the amount of assets you are leaving them, or may find thinking about a time when you are no longer with them emotionally overbearing. The key is to listen. Let your children have their say in the conversation, but be prepared to share why you have made certain decisions. Paint a picture for your children by explaining the legacy you wish to leave behind for them.
Finally, we encourage you to follow up with your children about the conversation you had after the holidays. Whether you believe the discussion went well or not, it is important to keep the conversation going. Each time you update your plan, for example, you may consider sharing those details with your children to keep them informed. This way, your children can feel involved in the planning process and may better understand your thoughts behind each planning decision you make.
We know this can be a challenging topic for you and your children to think about, and an equally as difficult conversation to have. If you have questions about anything raised here or need further advice about your planning, do not hesitate to contact our office.