As a parent, you may consider estate planning something that you should do alone. These are your decisions about your money and your assets. No one gets to make those choices for you.
Strictly speaking, of course, you’re right. These are decisions that you get to make, and no one else has to be involved. However, it may be wise to talk with your heirs as you make your plan.
A discussion can help your heirs avoid a costly dispute
The main reason to talk to them is simply that you want to avoid resentment and/or disputes. Talking to your children in advance can do this.
Say you have decided to leave $500,000 to one child and $100,000 to their sibling. You have your reasons — perhaps the first child simply needs more assistance financially — and you can do this if you want.
If you don’t talk to the kids, though, is that sibling who gets less going to resent you for it? Are they going to resent the other person? Are they even going to start an estate dispute, claiming that the will is a fake or that the sibling who got more must have used undue influence to steal what was meant for them?
Regardless of the outcome of a dispute like that, you really don’t want it to happen at all. Your children’s relationship with each other may never actually recover from the dispute and hard feelings.
If you talk to your kids while you do your estate planning, though, they never have this disagreement with each other. You make sure that they really understand all of the legal decisions you made and why you made them. Often it helps to have some experienced legal guidance throughout the process. That can make it easier to objectively approach your future decisions and goals.