Estate planning can be a complex process. Those attempting to put together a balanced plan likely find themselves navigating difficult questions like:
- Is a will enough?
- Should trusts be included?
- Is Medicaid an option?
In comparison, the top reported estate planning issue in a recent survey is relatively simple: communication.
Why is communication important in estate planning?
Communicating your wishes and expectations can save a lot of heartache in the future. This is true for both the aging population and their children that are hoping to help their parents enjoy their sunset years.
For the aging population, this means sharing exactly what you would like your sunset years to look like. Are you hoping a loved one will serve as a primary caretaker or would you prefer to be in a community with professional assistance? Who are you planning on designating as the executor of the estate? Clearly sharing these expectations can help others to both prepare themselves and to help make sure your expectations are met.
For the children of this population, it means clearly communicating your goals. Are you willing to take on these responsibilities or would prefer to help fund professional assistance?
Isn’t this already happening?
According to a recent publication by Time, communicating these expectations does not always occur. The publication involved analysis of a recent survey conducted by Fidelity. The analysis had many surprising findings, including the fact that 90 percent of parents plan on having one of the children serve as the executor of their estate. This was a surprise to almost 30 percent of the children included in the survey.
Additional surprises: 70 percent of parents expect children to play a role in managing investments and other financial decisions – over a third of the children didn’t plan on playing this role. Approximately 75 percent of parents expect a child to become their primary caregiver while 40 percent of children were unprepared to take on this role.
Such surprises can be avoided by discussing your plans. A simple conversation can help to ensure these wishes are met or lead to an opportunity to develop a plan that works better for everyone involved.