Heartache and heartburn lie ahead for grown kids whose parent's don't let them know how they plan to disburse their assets. That's what the estate-planning experts say and they may not be exaggerating. Of course, right or wrong, you won't be there to see it. But still.
The misunderstandings that can arise range from hurt feelings over who the executor of the will is to why one sibling was chosen to inherit the house and another got the jewelry--when the kids would have preferred it the other way around.
Yes, it's time to have a conversation with your grown children about your estate plan. Not necessarily how much you'll be leaving them but why you're doing what. One set of parents with a financially successful son and a do-good-works but much poorer daughter, sat their son down to explain why the daughter would inherit more of their money than he would. Having the information come directly from mom and dad and the reason behind it meant a lot to the son, who said he might have felt that somehow he had disappointed his parents--rather than that they felt so good about his success that they didn't feel he needed further backing. He also felt that if had disagreed with their reasoning he would have had a chance to argue against it. And he was able to tell them what items of theirs had sentimental value for him.
Such a nice story. And you're probably saying, as I am, I'm going to do it, I'm going to have a conversation with my kids about my estate--however big or small that estate may be. Besides, sentimental value can't be overestimated. And yet we don't do it. I haven't done it yet. Is it the confrontation with mortality? The discomfort of talking about money? Of appearing to play favorites? Of re-stoking sibling rivalries?
Time to come to terms with those emotions. If you need a little rational support, this New York Times story may be just the ticket.