A Guide to Dividing Estate Planning Duties Among Adult Children

Even fully-fledged adults revert to their child-like selves sometimes. To avoid temper tantrums and sibling rivalries, here are some tips to help you streamline the estate planning process like grown-ups.
A Guide to Dividing Estate Planning Duties Among Adult Children

Sure, your adult children are what they look like – adults. But do they always act like it? Well, we’ll let you be the judge of that one. When planning your estate, you need to be practical and consider all the possible scenarios, including how your children will react if there are any big surprises. (Like, if a child is disinherited, for instance. Big yikes, but it does happen.)

As part of the estate planning process, you must nominate friends or family members to take on important roles. While they have a say in accepting or declining these roles, it’s best to organise them in advance, so that when the time comes, everyone is as prepared as they possibly can be.

Looking for tips on how to make the estate planning process easier on your adult children? Here are some recommendations to consider.

Be practical about who should receive each job

Step one to determining which of your adult children should be assigned which job is to consider:

  • personality traits
  • how reliable they are
  • their relationship with money
  • skills
  • qualifications, if necessary. 

Understanding your adult children’s differences can ultimately help you make these big decisions. For example, you may have:

  • a child who isn’t great with paperwork. Or money. Not all of us are!
  • a child who has a family of their own to care for. This is important to consider, as they may have less time and capacity to help.
  • a child who lives with a disability or a chronic illness. In some instances, they may be able to take on the responsibility, but it’s important to speak to them about it first.
  • a child who lives overseas. If your child lives and/or works abroad, they may not be able to take on large responsibilities. Or, when the time comes, they may be restricted by how much they can do from afar. 

So, bearing in mind the examples listed above, how do you choose which child gets which job? Well, you may have a lawyer in the family – that’s where qualifications can come in. See – their communication, mediation and filing skills are likely already fine-tuned, making them well-suited for the role of executor. On the other hand, you may have an extremely organised and charismatic child who gets along with everyone. In this instance, they may be the best person to act as your executor, for example.

It’s important to weigh up your options, keeping in mind that you are not limited to choosing your children for these roles. (You can also choose a spouse, close friend, sibling, etc – or choose two executors to work together.)

Carefully consider your named power of attorney 

There comes a time in (many) people’s lives when they have to select a Power of Attorney (POA). Suppose you are physically or mentally unable to handle your finances. In that case, a POA will give your nominated person permission to pay your bills, manage investments, file taxes and even manage your assets, such as properties you own.

It’s important to choose a person you trust to act as your power of attorney – keeping in mind that it doesn’t have to be one of your adult children. As a general rule of thumb, many people opt to choose an attorney who is younger than them.

Think about your children’s personality traits

Ideally, you want the people handling your estate to be trustworthy, with golden communication skills and a whole lotta emotional intelligence … as well as possess the physical and mental strength to carry out duties when the time comes.

It’s also important to be aware of any so-called ‘negative’ personality traits (such as jealousy, anger issues or an inability to deal with conflict) when making these decisions. When in doubt, speak to a legal professional for advice on your particular situation. 

Wrap up 

The nature of having children is that they all turn out differently – each with their personality traits, flaws and talents! (We are all human, after all.) As a parent organising your estate plan, it’s a good idea to put your parenting hat aside and look at the task ahead from a practical standpoint. Only you know who is best for the job. And if you’re not so sure? Talk to a legal professional. They’ll help you navigate all the noise.

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You can start planning for your estate by using the Willed platform to design and build your Will. Once you’re done, one of our Wills & Estate Experts can review your Will to make sure everything’s good to go!

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice.

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