You’ve probably seen a lot of articles on how to talk about your estate plans with your adult children – but what about your teenagers?
While not adults with adult ways of thinking, today’s teenagers are hyper aware of the realities of death. Almost every teen knows that accidents happen, sudden violence can erupt and take lives and people can get sick and die.
So, why bring up the topic of your potential death to your teen? Here are some thoughts:
Your teen may be deeply worried about where they’ll live.
The teen years are often full of anxiety, and your teen may actively wonder (without telling you) where they would live and who would be in charge of them until they turn 18 years of age if something happens to you.
In particular, you should probably discuss with older teens the issue of guardianship. All other things being even, you may want to get your teenager’s input on why they’d prefer to live with Aunt Pam instead of Uncle Andy or Grandpa Joe.
Your teen may be afraid about their future financial security.
Teenagers crave security. If you intend to have all your major possessions sold and all the money put into a trust for them, let them know that’s your plan. Explain what that means.
If you intend to put restrictions on the trust (such as what age they can access the balance of the funds or how the money can be used), let them know. That helps a teenager better envision the future – even if the worst should happen.
You set the stage for future discussions.
The more you open up and demystify the estate planning process and the subject of dying, the easier it will be to talk about them in the future. That sets a trend for the future where the subject can be addressed by either of you without hesitation or fear.
Talking about – or even thinking about – death is uncomfortable for a lot of people, and it really doesn’t get any easier as you get older. Opening these conversations with your near-adult teen today can help reduce stress on both sides and foster a healthy outlook for the future. As you make your estate plans, keep in mind that it’s family that counts.