Some taboos have changed, but the talk about wills and distribution of assets remains an awkward one for many. That includes telling adult children where estate planning documents have been stored.
To keep peace in the family and to avoid the conflict that so often follows the death of a parent, it’s almost as important to discuss what’s in your estate plan and where it’s located, as to have one created. As reported in a recent ThinkAdvisor article, “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way — if Loved Ones Can Find It,” today’s family dynamics are complicated. Start by talking about where your will is located, then launch into a discussion about your intentions.
BMO’s survey of 1,008 Americans 18 and older, found that 52% of all respondents didn’t yet have a will. This figure rose to 56% among those between 35 and 54. Of married adults who had a will and/or powers of attorney, 25% said only their spouse knew where the documents were kept.
Many issues, challenges and potential family conflicts can be avoided when an estate plan and will are in place. A person who passes away in the U.S. without a will, may have his or her estate controlled by state intestacy laws. That will determine who will receive assets from the estate.
The survey also found that 40% of parents had never discussed their estate plans with their kids. Just 28% of all adults said they knew about their parents’ wills or estate distribution plans. A total of 40% of the survey’s respondents said the distribution of their parents’ estates was unfair.
The survey noted that an estate plan with an up-to-date will and open conversations with the will’s executor and heirs were important to achieving estate planning goals. A will and estate plan should always be reviewed when any of these occur:
- Marital status changes
- Birth of children and grandchildren
- Purchase of life insurance
- Receipt of an inheritance
- Health changes
You may also want to explain to your heirs that there’s more in an estate plan that who gets what. A good estate plan includes a focus on minimizing tax liability and distributing wealth across generations to maximize value. It may take a few conversations, but this will protect the stability of the family.
Reference: ThinkAdvisor (April 6, 2017) “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way — if Loved Ones Can Find It”