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Why you should let your kids in on your estate planning

When discussing the process of estate planning, the idea of focusing on the implications of your decisions comes up a lot. We consider the best way to avoid taxes or probate, and choose a trustee we can rely on 100 percent. While these are certainly important things to take into account, it is important also to consider the emotional ramifications of your decisions.

Most importantly, consider your kids. Studies show that 25 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 59 expect that they will receive an inheritance in their lives. For most people, the most logical place an inheritance would come from is their parents. However, one-third of baby boomers do not plan to leave money to their children. If you have children, there is a good chance they may be expecting some type of inheritance from you, but if you are not planning to leave them one and don't tell them this, it can make the estate administration process very difficult.

Of course, the obvious answer is to clue your kids in on the decisions you have made for your estate plan. If you have decided to leave the money to charity, make sure you tell them and explain your choice. While you don't need to give them every last detail, explaining your decisions can help set expectations and avoid devastation during the estate administration process.

Ultimately, estate planning is a very personal process, and each individual has the right to do what they want with their assets. Taking the time to explain your decisions to your children or anyone else who may be expecting to benefit from your estate is just one more way to ensure that your loved ones aren't left with a difficult situation on their hands after you're gone.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Kids and Money: If you plan to leave an inheritance, manage expectations," Steve Rosen, Oct. 14, 2013

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