J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Attorney and CPA

Don't avoid discussing estate planning with the children

Thinking about one's eventual demise is not something many people in Florida are eager to do. However, when it comes to inheritances it is good for people to both have an estate plan and discuss that plan with their heirs and beneficiaries.

A recent report by UBS revealed some interesting statistics. Although 83 percent of persons surveyed had a will, only approximately half of these people had a conversation with their kids about the will. The statistics remained relatively the same despite a person's economic status. Of the responders who had less than $1 million, only 53 percent had discussed their inheritance with their children, and of those who had more than $1 million, only 55 percent did so. What's more, even fewer people --34 percent -- discussed specifically what assets were included in the will. Despite all of this, 66 percent of respondents did not want their wills to cause fights among their children, and 84 percent generally wanted the process in which their assets will be distributed to run smoothly.

While it can sometimes be awkward do discuss one's personal finances with one's children, it is an important step to take when it comes to estate planning. While many heirs do not want to appear greedy, they may initially disagree with how their parents are to pass down their assets. Having conversations ahead of time can help smooth out these wrinkles so their are no surprises when it comes to executing the will.

This advice applies not only to wills, but also to other estate planning documents, such as trusts, health care directives and power of attorney. Keeping the lines of communication open can help ensure that a person's estate is handed down to their heirs and beneficiaries in the best possible manner. A person's idea of who should be named as executor should also be discussed ahead of time so these people are able and comfortable with carrying out these duties when the time comes. While discussions about estate planning may be difficult, in the end they are usually for the best.

Source: The New York Times, "What's Almost as Certain as Death? Not Talking About the Inheritance," Paul Sullivan, Aug. 1, 2014

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