So you’ve done your estate planning. Should you tell your adult children about your planning? My clients ask me this all the time.
First, good job. You’ve done your estate planning. Most people haven’t, and their children will inherit a disorganized mess.
Second, whether you tell your children depends on the relationship you have with them. Estate planning, like just about everything in life, is about relationships.
If you’ve invested the time in your children and you have a close trusting relationship, then you probably should tell them. Your estate plan is about documents and how well they are written, but it is also about how your wishes in those documents will be executed. If you trust your children enough to name them as your successor trustees, executors and agents, why hide the ball? If you trust them enough to manage your estate when you pass away, trust them enough now to let them in on what you’ve done and what their role will be. And you don’t necessarily have to disclose the value of your assets.
If you don’t have a good relationship with your children and you believe it’s too late to start one, then maybe you don’t tell them. You don’t want them sharpening the long knives when they learn.