This post is part of our series for advisors to pass to their clients. Knowing more about your clients' needs will help you to better serve them. Aging doesn't have to be scary, and we here at Ashar want to help you provide the resources that policy sellers need to flourish in this chapter of their lives.
Imagine: a group of family members are summoned to a lawyer's office for the reading of a will. Suspense hangs in the air. Finally, the will is read. Some of the family are appalled, others are thankful, but everyone is surprised.
Now, you've probably seen this scene in a hundred movies and TV shows. In these setups, the will is shrouded in secrecy, with no one knowing what or who is included until they actually hear (or don't hear) their names read.
It may make for a great plot point in a story, but in real life, keeping one's family in the dark about how you've decided to divide your assets is not such a great idea. And yet, surprisingly, many families do eventually find themselves in this or a similar situation when a parent or spouse either passes, or becomes unable to manage their finances due to illness or mental incapacity.
This can be due to a number of things - perhaps you changed your estate plans, and simply forgot to notify those who'd be affected, like your adult children. Or maybe there were circumstances beyond your control, like a sudden illness.
Often, however, adult children don't know about their parents' estate for a simple, easy-to-rectify reason: the parents didn't want to have that conversation.
No one denies that talking about what will happen to the family after you pass or become ill is a difficult thing to do. But it's also incredibly important both for your adult children's future, and for your relationship with them.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're preparing to discuss your financial situation with your adult children.
Before you sit down with them, decide what they need to know.
The point of having this financial conversation with your children is to give them the knowledge they need to:
- Act on your behalf, should they need to
- Understand why you've made your particular estate planning choices
- Make any legal or financial processes they have to go through in the event of your death as painless as possible
In other words, they don't need to know how much money you spend in a year, how many years of retirement you've saved for, or what you pay in taxes (unless, of course, you feel it's important to share this information with them).
They do need to know whether or not you have a financial plan to pay for long-term care or medical treatment, should the need for for them arise. They should know where your important legal and financial documents are, as well as how to contact your financial advisor and medical advisor.
If you've liquidated your life insurance policy in a life settlement, let your children know what money will be available for funeral arrangements and any other end-of-life business they'll need to take care of.
And they should also know who will be receiving what assets - both financial and property - when you pass away. This is especially true if you foresee your decisions causing strain among your children.
When you have the conversation, be frank and honest.
When you sit down with your children (or child, if you're meeting with them separately), do your best to be open and honest about your decisions. This may be difficult to do; every parent wants to spare their child grief and worry, and some people may become very upset discussing a parent's eventual death.
However, if you can manage to get through the discussion now, you'll be saving your children from a huge amount of legal and financial stress later on. At least, if you talk about these things with them now, you'll be there to help them deal with those uncomfortable feelings.
Make sure to broach any topics that you think may eventually cause problems with or between your children.
As we mentioned earlier, it's important to disclose any plans you've made that you think might create issues for your children. A prime example would be if you're dividing your property unequally among them. Maybe there are some treasured family heirlooms that more than one of your children wants.
You know your family best, so you'll know what things really need to be discussed in order to prevent any significant rupture from occurring in the future. While there may be some heated disagreements when you disclose who's getting what, it's better to have it all out now, when your children can be angry with you, if they need to be, instead of at each other.
Talking with your family about how your estate will be divided is rarely easy, but it's an important step to take as you age. If you think a life settlement might help you with your retirement or estate planning, ask your financial advisor to contact Ashar today!