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What do adult children need to know about parents' estate plans?

Once estate plans have been prepared by Pennsylvania residents, they usually feel pretty good about completing this important task. They have crafted plans for what will happen to their assets. They have powers of attorney in place, so that a trusted individual can make important medical and financial decisions if they are unable to do so. They have prepared living wills for end-of-life decisions. But, what good is estate planning if no one knows about it? What do parents need to inform their adult children of when it comes to their estate plans?

Many people wait until their senior years to craft estate plans. While previous posts here have pointed out that people of all ages could benefit from estate planning, many people still wait. By the time that many people do estate planning, their children are adults. It is likely that those adult children will be the primary beneficiaries, personal representatives and agents under the estate plans.

It is important for these adult children to know the details of the powers of attorney and living wills. These documents are in place for use when the principal is still alive, but incapacitated or disabled. Adult children need to know who will be serving as the agents making these decisions and what authority they have been given. Adult children will also need to know how to access the documents in an estate plan to ensure that there is no confusion when the powers of attorney, living wills or even wills are needed.

The adult children will also need to know how to access their parents' personal information, such as Social Security numbers, bank accounts, passwords, etc. The adult children should also know about their parents preferred final arrangements. All of these details should be discussed with adult children while their parents are able to do so. Alternatively, the parents can tell their adult children where to find this information when it is needed.

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