A recently published study claimed that while nearly three-fourths of parents thought they had discussed their estate plan with their kids, less than half of kids said their parents had discussed their estate plan with them. Talking about your estate plan can be an important step in your planning process. Be sure to avoid these three common mistakes.
1. Not telling your kids where your important documents are.
When the time comes, it is important that your family can find your estate planning documents, such as your will and power of attorney. You want to ensure your documents are kept safe and in your possession. Be sure the right people have knowledge of where the documents are and would be able to access them if needed. Remember, your loved ones cannot access your safety deposit box in your absence. It is just as important to keep a list of your assets so that your family will know where all you have accounts and at least a rough idea of how much should be in those accounts.
2. Not telling your kids who your power of attorney is.
If you need a power of attorney to act on your behalf it is important not only that your power of attorney knows who they are but also that your kids know who your power of attorney is. If your power of attorney is one of your kids telling them ahead of time allows them to act when necessary and prepare for the role. You can also establish a chain-of-command if you have named several kids in succession. If you have chosen one child over another, it is important to address this decision head on while you have capacity. If you have chosen someone other than a spouse or a child, it may be important to introduce your selection to your kids and give them an opportunity to ask questions.
3. Waiting too late to talk to your kids about your estate plan.
If you are waiting until you are older or are in poorer health to talk to your kids about your estate plan, you might wait too late. Many clients do not want to alarm their kids with a conversation about their potential incapacity or death. However, having a discussion with your kids while you are still able allows them to clearly understand your intentions and be prepared for the future.
Of course, each family is different and each family’s dynamics are different. You may wish to consult your estate planning attorney prior to engaging in any conversations. If you need help putting together your estate plan and facilitating a conversation with your kids give The Toups Law Firm a call at (832) 761-5107.