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Talking to Your Adult Children About Inheritance

Are you concerned that talking with your adult children about your plans for their inheritance will incite family drama?  This is a dilemma that many parents face but avoiding the issue can potentially cause some bigger problems down the road.

Many parents avoid doing what is necessary to prepare their children for the hand-off of wealth.  Being unprepared to inherit money can lead to financial and emotional problems in the future.  It’s like giving your car keys to someone who doesn’t know how to drive.

Some parents unintentionally fuel havoc around the issue of inheritance rather than prevent it by simply not discussing it.  Many people do not want to talk about death or money and the conversation about inheritance is put off until it’s too late.  However, parents can reduce the potential for anxiety in an already emotional situation by letting their children know about their inheritance in advance.  How, what and when parents tell their adult children about their plans should be guided by their own family values and each child’s ability to process the information.

Special circumstances may have to be made for a child who has physical, emotional or mental challenges that have caused issues with money in the past.  In this case, a special arrangement might need to be made and presented to the affected child that is different from the other children.  Otherwise, a balanced approach to sharing the information is usually the best option.

It’s very important to discuss how your personal property will be divided with your children.  One of the most disputed aspects of settling an estate can be the distribution of items like jewelry, artwork or items with significant sentimental value.  Provide each of your children with a chance to discuss their favorite items and come to a decision about how everything will be divided.

Arrange a family meeting to discuss your estate plan where you can tell your adult children where your financial and estate planning documents are stored and what they can expect to be in your will.  If one of your children will receive a larger inheritance than the others, this is the best opportunity to bring it up.  Otherwise, your children will find out after you are gone which can cause a lot of emotional distress and disagreements.  You can explain to your kids that you love them equally but you feel you made the best decision as parents.  This can help avoid animosity and the possibility of a contested will.

It is helpful to have your trusted estate planning attorney with you at your family meeting to ensure a tolerant, impartial and patient atmosphere.  Our trusted estate planning attorneys in Pittsburgh are here to help.  Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can help you prepare your estate plan and speak with your adult children about their inheritance.