According to a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled “Time for the ‘Estate’ Talk”, once parents decide to engage in written estate planning, they should also consider disclosing their decisions to their adult children.  About as appealing as the “sex talk” with young ones, this “talk” usually causes parents serious trepidation and is probably not one of the best of ideas propounded by the journal.

The decision to leave one child more than another almost always causes ruffled feathers; no parent needs or wants that, especially late in life.  Frankly, only one of the author’s reasons to have this discussion resonates legally: deciding to talk to your children about their inheritance, invites you to consider if tax liabilities will be incurred that can be avoided if the estate planning is coordinated with your children. Aside from that, if you choose to tell your children what you are leaving them after your death, you could be nurturing future expectations, or cause them and yourself unnecessary grief.

Advise: Consult with an attorney, set up a thoughtful estate plan, and share your general wishes with your loved ones, but keep them in the dark about the details.  After all, you can change your mind and amend your will as you see fit and probably don’t need the added opinion of anyone on the receiving end.