by Conrad Slate

I read a recent article that discussed how to use the time during the holidays to broach your estate plans with your children.  It’s pretty exciting stuff…”Come home to visit us and we’ll tell you how we are going to pass along what we have.” No, for many of us I just don‘t think so.   We have talked to our children about this, but not with them together. Our judgment dictates that we are better served to do it separately. Our children are local and we see them regularly.  They know they are not going to get all of what we have remaining (if there is anything remaining)!

However, the article makes a point that is totally correct in my judgment.  If you and your children are all together during the holidays, even if it is not for several days, it does make sense to discuss certain things that are often avoided.  

When all of you are together, it may be timely to make sure you children know who your advisors are (doctor, accountant, investment professional/financial planner, banker, etc.).  Maybe they really need to know that you have long term care insurance and your wishes are to be at home as long as possible. If that becomes impossible then maybe you have a preference as to where you’d want to be.  Maybe it is not long term care but something else that they need to know about.

They may need to know that you have named a charity (in whole or part) as a beneficiary of your life insurance, if you have done that.

Your children do not need to know how much you have or what is likely to transfer today.  There is too much that could happen between now and then (whenever “then” is).  Often, it is better to let them know that they won‘t be able to retire on what you may leave.  In other words, they should not plan on relying on what you may leave them. I just think that’s a wise thing to communicate, but that’s me.

Because of our unique relationship with many of our clients as planners, they give their children our contact info and tell them to call us first.  We normally know more about them than any other single advisor so we are a good starting place if something unexpected occurs.

Holidays are times for considering our blessings and being thankful, but I also believe we need to take the opportunities we have to continue to communicate values and expectations to those we love.