Most parents of adult children who have an estate plan hope that the terms of their plan are carried out with minimal stress on their children. However, even the most carefully drafted estate plan can cause conflict among your adult children after your death. This is especially true if the adult children will not receive an equal inheritance or if one adult child was selected to serve as power of attorney or executor over another adult child. One way you may be able to stave off potential estate litigation between your adult children is to discuss your estate plan with your adult children while you are still alive.
Why did you choose a specific child for a specific role?
First, explain your intentions to your adult children. Explain why you chose certain child was selected to have power of attorney or serve as executor. It is important that all your adult children know that it has nothing to do with favoritism. It may simply be that one adult child lives closer to you geographically or has the time available to properly fulfill these roles. Make sure your adult children know it is not about favoritism (assuming that is the case.)
What were your intentions with regards to inheritance?
Second, you will want to explain why each adult child is receiving the inheritance they are. While explaining an even split of your estate amongst your adult children might be simple enough, your children deserve to know why you chose an unequal split of your estate if that is the case. This can avoid potential conflicts such as accusations of coercion or duress surrounding your will when you die.
You may have given a lot of careful thought towards your estate plan. That does not mean, however, that conflict between your adult children will not arise if they do not understand why you made the decisions you did in your estate plan. Having a good conversation with your children about your estate plan while you are still alive may hopefully stave off estate litigation upon your death.