Practical Matters Parents Should Discuss With Young Adults

Father and son talking

Parents of young adults may not realize that sharing information - both legal and financial - with their children is important to do and also respectful of their child's maturity and grown-up status. Assuming parents have all of their affairs in order (if you don't, you really should take care of this), the next step is to have a conversation with your young adult children and explain your plan to them.

43% of parents have not had detailed conversations with family members about long-term care and elder care; another 23% haven’t had any conversations on these topics at all. - Forbes.com

There are many topics that may come up during a conversation such as this, ranging from who gets what household items to who will take care of your pets if something happens to you. While this is not an easy topic for many families to talk about, it will make end-of-life decisions much more simple and will give family the tools they need to proceed with the legal and personal issues that will arise after the death of a parent. As more and more of us are living to be 90 years old and above, children are often tasked with caring for aging parents. You are doing everyone a kindness by laying out for them what they will need to know.

Executor of the estate: Choose one of your adult children (typically the eldest) to be the executor of your estate.

Even if you are not very wealthy or own much property or stock, it's important for one person to be charged with managing your money and other things after you are gone.

"92% of parents expect one of their children will be the executor of their estate, but 27% of the kids identified as filling this role didn’t know it." Forbes.com

Contact information: Parents should give their young adult and millennial kids the names, emails and phone numbers of the following:

  • attorney
  • insurance Broker
  • primary care physician
  • mortuary (if this has been planned in advance)
     

Documents:

  • wills 
  • life insurance plans
  • mortgage papers
  • leases
  • automobile leases or titles
  • health care proxy
  • end-of-life decisions
  • power of attorney
  • do not resuscitate requests 
  • a people to be notified in case of death
  • long term care insurance

These are documents that need to be accessible to one or more of young adult children. In some cases, an attorney will be responsible for passing on all of this information to the family, but it doesn't hurt to keep duplicates of these documents in a safe deposit box and tell someone the location of the key to the box. 

Long term care requests and arrangements: One of the most difficult topics to discuss is what you would prefer if you should become incapacitated or gravely ill. If you prefer to stay in your home, how will that be managed, and how will it be paid for? Would you be comfortable in a long term care facility? Do you have a long term care insurance policy? 

Financial status: This can be an emotional topic to both discuss and decide upon how much to reveal.

It's important that young adult children know whether or not their parents will be able to support themselves as they age, and that is the minimum parents should tell their kids. Be honest - if there are concerns about savings running out or cost of living exceeding income, give young adult kids the benefit of the doubt and tell them so. It will give them time to prepare for the possibility of needing to budget for any help that might be needed. If your estate is sizable and your children will inherit some wealth from you when you pass, you do not need to reveal the details of your finances if you choose not to. With the financial market always in flux and the economy under duress, counting on any sum of money in the future can be foolish, and for some young adults it can blunt their ambition and motivation to work hard if they believe they will someday come into a good amount of money.

 

Family heirlooms: For many families, squabbling over who get's grandmother's diamond necklace or grandfather's collection of rare coins can cause a permanent rift between siblings. In the case of valuable - and not so valuable - special items, it's a good idea to discuss beforehand who would like what, and then make it clear in your will or in another document who those items should go to. There is nothing more valuable than family relationships, but deciding on who gets to take what home in the midst of the emotionally overwhelming loss of a parent can cause damage to even the best relationships.