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Discuss estate plan with family before it's too late

Estate planning is a very important part of financial and retirement planning in the U.S. Americans seem to understand the importance of estate planning, with 90 percent of adults saying that estate planning is very important, according to a BMO Management survey.

Even though a majority of Americans say that estate planning is important, the same survey reported that only 19 percent of U.S. adults have had a detailed conversation with their parents about estate planning. Failing to discuss estate planning options can lead to difficult decisions and fights over the family legacy and inheritance instead of bonding and sharing memories with loves ones after a beloved family member has passed away.

Families should be aware of their estate planing options and parents should discuss these options with their children and other family members so there are no surprises after they pass away. Parents can use estate planning to create a family legacy that will make sure their family is taken care of as well as help their family have positive memories of their family instead of fighting over inheritance or the family home.

Once parents have made their estate plan, including specific decisions on inheritance and beneficiaries, it is important to talk about these decisions with their children. While these conversations may be difficult, it can help the family understand why the estate plan was created the way it was and hopefully reduce tension and future fights over the terms of the estate plan.

Parents should inform their children about what estate planning documents they have created and what is included in these documents to allow the family to understand what will happen after you pass away and what is expected of them. While this conversation can be difficult to start, discussing your estate plan with your children should help everyone be on the same page as well as allow the family to ask questions or bring up concerns now while they still can.

Source: The Street, "We All Say Estate Planning Is Important, Yet Here's How Few of Us Do It," Brian O'Connell, August 1, 2013