This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

We All Say Estate Planning Is Important, Yet Here's How Few of Us Do It

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We're nearly unanimous on the issue of estate planning in the event of the death of a loved one. BMO Management, a Chicago-based wealth management firm, reports that 90% of U.S. adults say estate planning "as an important topic to discuss."

So why, in the same survey, do only 19% of adults say there have been detailed discussions on estate planning needs with their parents?

OK, there is always the death issue -- nobody wants to discuss their own mortality, or the mortality of a family member.

But if you don't have that discussion, you're inviting big trouble from a family financial planning point of view.

BMO examines the issue in a report called The Family Conversation You Should Not Avoid: How to Discuss Your Legacy.


Parents are reluctant to talk about passing their wealth to future generations. Only 33% of U.S. parents say they have had "in detail" discussions about estate planning with their kids, the BMO study says, although that's significantly higher than their adult kids perceive.

That lack of communication is really inviting trouble down the road.

"Will your relatives and friends remember their period of loss as one when they were comforted and supported by each other, or will it be a divisive and difficult interpersonal experience?" asks Stephen Williams, a vice-president of financial planning at BMO Private Bank. "One of the best ways to create a legacy is through conversations with family, heirs and beneficiaries to foster lasting positive memories."

Although those conversations aren't easy, given the serious nature of the subject matter, they have to happen -- the sooner the better.

"Your personal legacy depends more on the effective communication of your values, plans and beliefs than on the items that can be neatly summarized in the paragraphs in your will and trust," he says. "Though conversations about estate planning may be difficult, they are necessary to share the background and reasoning behind the estate decisions that have been made and that your heirs will have to implement."

BMO advises parents to start that conversation with their children on a positive note. Parents should let their kids know a will, a trust and power of attorney has been established. That lets the family know a plan is in place, at which point a deeper discussion can follow.

It's also a good idea to meet as a family -- getting everyone involved ensures everyone's point of view is heard, and replaces speculation and assumptions with facts.

"You and your heirs may not necessarily agree on everything, but the conversation will provide information to build a more robust estate plan with fewer potential surprises," Williams says. "In addition, it will help to create a legacy that safeguards your values and cherished memories long into the future."\

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,172.68 -107.06 -0.62%
S&P 500 1,994.29 -16.11 -0.80%
NASDAQ 4,527.6890 -52.10 -1.14%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs