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Tips on discussing estate planning matters with heirs

Many Texas parents are uncertain whether to share the details of their estate plans with their adult children. On one hand, having these discussions can reduce the tension and stress that follows the loss of a loved one, since everyone will know what to expect. On the other hand, a high level of tension and stress can be brought about by having such conversations. While this may be a difficult topic for many parents to broach with their children, estate planning is an area in which transparency is usually the best policy.

This is especially true in instances in which the assets left to children are not equal. In many cases, parents will choose to leave more money to some children than to others. While there may be a wide range of valid reasons behind such decisions, if this news comes as a shock to a family after a death has taken place, a high degree of contention can arise between adult children. Some families even find themselves in court fighting over inheritance issues.

The best way to avoid this outcome is to have a series of discussions with affected family members. By taking the time to spell out the reasons behind certain estate planning decisions, adult children are given the chance to understand why the estate plan is structured in a certain manner. Children should be allowed to ask questions to clarify matters, but, of course, the final say always rests in the hands of the parents. In many cases, having an honest and frank discussion will help all parties accept the decisions made by the parents, which can go a long way toward reducing tensions when the time comes to set those plans into motion.

As with so many estate planning topics, it can be difficult to know how to begin a conversation about these matters. However, by having open and honest discussions with one’s adult children, a great deal of tension and strife can be avoided. As with so many emotionally charged subjects, individuals often just need the time and space to adjust. By handling the matter well in advance of the death of one or both parents, adult children in Texas will have the time needed to both understand and accept the reasons behind various estate planning choices.

Source:, “Should Parents Tell Their Adult Children What’s in their Estate-Planning Documents? Yes“, Patricia Angus, Feb. 23, 2015