Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Should You Tell Adult Children About Your Estate-Plan?

Who you should tell about your estate plan has been an interesting issue in my estate planning practice for the last 36+ years. As an estate planning attorney, I have my thoughts about transparency with children, but those are not universally shared.

Where I advise estate planning clients to be transparent, there are those who believe in the opposite approach which is, "my kids will know about my estate after I'm dead".

Which of these approaches is correct? The answer depends on the age of the children, the family dynamic and each client's individual situation.

First, here is a recent article which discusses issues of informing your adult children about your estate plan:

Article: Should You Tell Your Children

After you read this article, then consider this advice given to all of my estate planning clients:

1. Be transparent. If you are going to disclose to adult children details of your estate plan, then be transparent and DO NOT use the conversation as a means to control or manipulate.

2. As the picture above shows, disclose only to adult children, like those in the picture below, who are mature enough to understand the importance of estate planning.

3. Make the conversation about love of family and the family reasons for your estate planning. Of course you may have tax reasons, but remember that we don't let the tax tail wag the family dog. Estate planning is always about family first and foremost.

4. Understand your estate plan first before discussing with your children. Be clear why you are informing them and be sensitive to the reality that all children are uncomfortable with discussing their parents mortality.

Please let me know your thoughts on the article and your thoughts about these issues.

Thank you.

Bernie Greenberg


  1. I really liked your advice to understand your estate first before discussing it with your children. Sometimes, folks want to involve all of their children in the process. However, that can cause a lot of drama. I think it is best to know what you are going to do before speaking with everyone.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.