One of the most difficult topics of discussion within families is inheritance (the other difficult topic, you already know about). Estate planning is complex enough, but discussing the issue with family is probably as important as making a plan to begin with.
Is there a “right” time to discuss it with children?
A recent article in The Fiscal Times states that American baby boomers will leave about $12 trillion to children in the coming decades. I expect the numbers are proportionally similar in Canada. That is an overwhelming number!
What is important about speaking to your family is that it will help clarify any uncertainty your children may have about “what will happen,” and may help them with their own planning.
The Times also recommends having the talk with adult children after they have established themselves financially. Any earlier may lead to an attitude of irresponsibility; adult children may otherwise think they don’t need to be concerned about their financial future, because the parents will look after things.
It is especially important to speak with family where the distribution will be unequal among the children. That way, at least they will know why.
Not informing children of such major decisions can lead to problems, from anxiety to the breakdown of sibling relationships. In most cases, discussing Estate plans with children will help your family.
This ad ran in the Richmond Review on September 19, 2014.