Should You Tell the Kids?

Absolutely. If you don’t tell them, how will they ever know?

OK, what we are talking about here is your Estate Plan, and your Estate Planning documents!

Unless they are too young, we recommend that you tell your children[1] that you have completed an Estate Plan, as that will often give them the same comfort and peace of mind that you have achieved.

And, we also recommend that you tell them where your Estate Planning Notebook[2] is located, in case anything happens.

Now for the $64.00, and the $64,000, questions[3]: should you tell the children about the provisions you have included in your estate planning documents, and should you relate to them the values of the assets you own?

In our experience, six Clients will tell their children about the provisions they have included in their estate planning documents, and a half dozen will not!

Very few Clients, however, choose to divulge to their children the values of the assets they own.

If you decide to tell your children about the provisions you have included in your Estate Plan, then we have some suggestions:

  • Please consider showing them the Flow Chart that we have prepared. In that way, the children will have a realistic chance of understanding such provisions. The Flow Chart is designed to summarize, in a graphical (and even colorful) format, the more important provisions of your Estate Plan, and to show how your various Estate Planning documents interact. By reviewing your Flow Chart, your children will not have to review lengthy, slumber-inducing legal documents, and then attempt to interpret them. Samples of our Flow Charts are provided in the Resources section of our Website.
  • If you believe it is appropriate, please also consider making an appointment with us so that your children can meet us, hear a summary of your Estate Plan directly “from the horse’s mouth”, and also have an opportunity to ask questions. Prior to the meeting, please tell us if you want us to divulge any asset values.
  • If you do, in fact, tell your children about the provisions you have made, please always keep them up to date with regard to any changes you make, as in many instances expectations based upon provisions that no longer apply can often lead to substantial issues after an incapacity or death.

[1] Although we are discussing beneficiaries who are children, the concepts in this Article also apply to non-children beneficiaries.

[2] We generally provide our Clients with an Estate Planning Notebook which contains copies of all of their Estate Planning documents, as well as a Flow Chart, a Document Locator, a List of Advisors, and a List of Relatives and Others to be contacted.

[3] A question that is important and generally difficult to answer. The $64.00 question is taken from the title of the 1940s radio program Take It or Leave It, in which the big prize was 64 silver dollars. The $64,000 Question was a TV Game Show in the 1950s, in which the big prize was $64,000.

Categories: Estate Planning