Dad was an elderly retired farmer with four daughters. The youngest had had a number of financial scrapes, and Dad had bailed her out. So, when he sat down with me to do his estate planning, he directed that her share be reduced to even things up between the daughters. Made sense to me.
Dad died several years later, and I presided over the “reading of the will.” All four daughters listened carefully, because their dad had never told them anything about his planning. When I finished, the youngest daughter was visibly upset.
During the probate of their dad’s estate, I dealt with all four girls. The youngest daughter’s feelings didn’t change. She had concluded that her dad didn’t love her as much as her sisters. What really surprised – and upset – me was that the youngest wouldn’t speak to her sisters. I did legal work for one of the daughters years later and learned that the sisters still hadn’t reconciled.
I think of this when I suggest to our clients that they consider sharing the details of their planning with their families. As part of our Peace of Mind Advantage process for living trust planning, we offer to host a family meeting where mom and dad can explain to the kids what they’ve done – any why.
That’s just good planning in my experience.