Recently, BMO Management conducted a survey concerning communication of estate plans. Although 90% of American adults surveyed stated that estate planning is “an important topic to discuss,” only 19% of those adults reported actually having detailed estate planning discussions with their parents. A recent article discusses why these results are problematic.
The absence of an estate planning discussion can cause trouble down the road. This trouble often leads to fighting among heirs, and a long, drawn out process of estate distribution. Through estate planning conversations, parents can discuss the reasoning behind their estate planning maneuvers and ensure that their children understand the intent behind the estate plan.
The sooner such conversations can take place, the better. As BMO vice-president of financial planning Stephen Williams explains, “Your personal legacy depends more on the effective communication of your values, plans and beliefs than on the items that can be neatly summarized in the paragraphs in your will and trust.” If you are a parent, begin this conversation on a positive note. Inform your children of what estate planning documents you have put in place and then begin a deeper discussion of your plans. If possible, have this conversation as a family.