To keep peace in the family and to avoid the conflict that so often follows the death of a parent, it’s almost as important to discuss what’s in your estate plan and where it’s located, as to have one created. As reported in a recent ThinkAdvisor article, “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way — if Loved Ones Can Find It,” today’s family dynamics are complicated. Start by talking about where your will is located, then launch into a discussion about your intentions.
BMO’s survey of 1,008 Americans 18 and older, found that 52% of all respondents didn’t yet have a will. This figure rose to 56% among those between 35 and 54. Of married adults who had a will and/or powers of attorney, 25% said only their spouse knew where the documents were kept.
Many issues, challenges and potential family conflicts can be avoided when an estate plan and will are in place. A person who passes away in the U.S. without a will, may have his or her estate controlled by state intestacy laws. That will determine who will receive assets from the estate.
The survey also found that 40% of parents had never discussed their estate plans with their kids. Just 28% of all adults said they knew about their parents’ wills or estate distribution plans. A total of 40% of the survey’s respondents said the distribution of their parents’ estates was unfair.
The survey noted that an estate plan with an up-to-date will and open conversations with the will’s executor and heirs were important to achieving estate planning goals. A will and estate plan should always be reviewed when any of these occur:
- Marital status changes
- Birth of children and grandchildren
- Purchase of life insurance
- Receipt of an inheritance
- Health changes
You may also want to explain to your heirs that there’s more in an estate plan that who gets what. A good estate plan includes a focus on minimizing tax liability and distributing wealth across generations to maximize value. It may take a few conversations, but this will protect the stability of the family.
Reference: ThinkAdvisor (April 6, 2017) “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way — if Loved Ones Can Find It”