No one wants to think about losing their beloved parents. That’s as true of kindergarteners as it is of grown adults with families of their own. Children of all ages can handle some frank discussion about their parents’ estate planning, though, and in fact may be reassured to know that you’re on top of your own affairs. You crafted those plans to protect the people you love the most. Now it’s time to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Kids 12 and Under
Sharing the details of your estate plans with young kids probably isn’t appropriate; a preschooler doesn’t need to know about your end-of-life wishes or who you’ve appointed as trustee, for example. But if your kids are old enough to understand death, they could be comforted to learn a little bit about what plans you’ve put in place. Without your guidance, they may bottle up their anxieties around death and even jump to inaccurate conclusions inspired by things they see in pop culture. For all you know, your child could see “Annie” and become convinced that kids whose parents die end up in scary orphanages.
Of course, it’s also possible to go overboard with estate planning information. In your family, it may make sense to wait to talk about these topics until a kid brings up the subject of death. Then you can talk about who will take care of them if something does happen to you. Reassure them that they would still have a support system with lots of loving family members and friends – that they will always still have everything they need and a safe, comfortable place to live. Invite their questions, too.
Learning about death, and that it may touch their families, can be pretty frightening for a young child. All you can do is open the conversation, offer plenty of reassurance and give truthful, age-appropriate answers to their questions. Sesame Street has a collection of great resources for parents who are talking to kids about death and grief.
Teens are on the verge of entering adulthood, and they can generally handle some honest conversations about estate planning. In addition to talking about who would be their guardian, if necessary, you may also want to talk to teenagers about the financial component of your estate plans. Have you taken steps to ensure that kids will be able to afford college, even if you died tomorrow? If you’ve set up any trusts that the kids would benefit from, who have you put in charge of managing the money? When would the kids be able to access their money and how would they responsibly manage it? Another way to begin the conversation is to help them begin their own estate planning steps. If your child is approaching 18, now is the perfect time to discuss the three essential documents for young adults.
It may also make sense for you to talk to your teenagers about where important documents are located. This may include copies of your will, trust paperwork, advance medical directives, plans for your funeral, account paperwork for any insurance policies you have, and so on. If these documents are kept inside the home, and something happens to you, your kids may be tasked with locating these documents.
Ideally, you’ll feel comfortable discussing all elements of your estate plans with your adult children. They’ll probably have roles to play in the settling of your estate someday. Things you’ll want to discuss with them include:
Estate planning is one of the ways you show your kids just how much you love them. The team at Ladimer Law understands that this process isn’t just about your money – it’s about taking care of your family. If you’re ready to move forward with your estate plans, our Wills in a Weekend program, coming up March 13 and 14, might be right for your family. Wherever you are in the process, we’ll help you put the plans in place that protect both your future and your kids’ futures. Contact Ladimer Law to start estate planning now.
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Ladimer Law specializes in estate planning. We protect our clients, their heirs, and their assets by listening closely, knowing the law, and executing estate plans that fit and evolve.