What Matters Most: Financial Planning Conversations to Have Now

Dec 10, 2020 | Estates Planning and Asset Protection

The winter holidays may look different this year, but hopefully you’ll still get to spend time with family and friends – even if it’s over Zoom.

And while the different forms of connecting might give your teenager a chance to pretend the Wi-Fi dropped when his aunt asked if he really needs to dye his hair that color, you’re all still spending time together – and that’s what matters.

But during all that shared time, it’s also important to talk with loved ones about the future and your financial plans.

Make Your Kids Aware of Your Financial Plan

Talking about your financial plan may not be the easiest conversation you’ve ever had with your kids, but it’s a smart one to make time for. Let them know you want to share your thoughts – and that you’re open to hearing theirs.

Discussing finances not only helps shape expectations, it’s also an important part of their financial education – both your willingness to have the conversation and your approach to planning. If you’ve set up a trust already, explain how the trust will work in your own words. Even if they already understand the process, it will be helpful for them to hear your vision.

And listen to their thoughts, too. You may have a child who wants to be a doctor and would benefit immensely from an educational trust. Or you might have a child who wants to attend trade school or pursue a different creative endeavor where an educational trust won’t be the best fit.

Either way, if your goal is to assist them in navigating future choices and adulthood, it helps if everyone’s on the same page.

Talk with Adult Children About Your Estate Plans, Too

Even if your kids have already started a career or family of their own, it’s still important to let them know what you’re thinking. Sharing your decisions can help them plan better for their own futures – and for the futures of their kids.

Whether it’s a dynasty trust, a 529 college savings plan for grandchildren, or a preference to support a beloved nonprofit through a charitable remainder trust, your kids will benefit from knowing your intentions – even (especially!) if that doesn’t involve leaving everything to them.

And while no one wants to be the bearer of “bad” news, most people will be grateful to know what to expect, rather than receiving an unpleasant surprise later. Besides, who better than you to explain the morals guiding your decisions?

Bottom Line: Be Open with Loved Ones

The value in discussing your financial plans doesn’t end with your kids. Talk to other dependents, your spouse or domestic partner, even trusted friends – ultimately, everyone who might be affected should know your plans.

If this seems like overkill, know that probate – the court-supervised process of “proving” a will – is one of the most contested areas in our judicial system. It’s also on the public record.

Don’t leave the door open for confusion or animosity. Grief can impact critical thinking, as well as immediate emotional responses.

Instead, set your family and loved ones up for success. Whether that’s clarifying expectations now or ensuring that everyone understands how your estate will be divided up, know that however hard it may feel to have these conversations, by sharing knowledge you’re helping the people you love.

And while we don’t recommend having these conversations after multiple rounds of eggnog, the holidays are generally a good time to broach this subject – people are home and spending time together. They have a chance to process, respond, or ask questions.

Talk with your family. After all, it’s the season of cheer and goodwill – and that includes necessary financial conversations that can help your family plan for the years ahead.

If you have questions about trusts or estate planning, contact us to schedule a consultation. Our experienced Texas estate attorneys can guide you through the process.

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