Difficult Discussions:

Sharing your financial wishes with your adult children

by Everence® Financial

When parents die, grief is not all that people feel. Sometimes, there’s a fair bit of frustration too, like when family members find out the details of the estate plan.

Ben and Sue Sprunger wanted their children to know what they have in mind for the future. Several family meetings later, the adult children knew about their parents’ financial situation and how Ben and Sue planned to divide their estate.

“We’ve talked with people whose parents kept everything secret,” Ben said. “As parents age, frustrations set in for some children with unanswered questions, for others, surprises and frustrations are acted out among siblings following funeral services. Silence creates a lot of frustration.”

Ben and Sue decided years ago that they had a responsibility to minimize potential problems for their children when the elder Sprungers are gone.

Ben said, “We wanted our children to participate with us in the decision-making. If we do it together, we hope to avoid hard feelings after we’re gone rather.” 

What’s the key to this whole process? “Start with the children,” Sue said.

The Sprungers’ experiences are featured in the book, “Necessary Conversations Between Adult Children and Their Aging Parents”, by Gerald and Marlene Kaufman. The Kaufmans, longtime family counselors, wrote the guide to encourage discussions about aging parents’ finances, medical care, living arrangements and other issues. 

“It’s a difficult subject but not an impossible subject to talk about,” Ben said. 

A commitment to God is reflected in how they arranged their estate plan and kept God in the forefront during family meetings to explain how they envision the future.

“How do we give back to the Lord?” Ben said. “If the Lord has entrusted this with us and blessed us and we don’t own it, how do we give it back and not shortchange the children in the process?”

Prior to their first family meeting, they provided their children a confidential paper, outlining things they wanted to discuss, including a financial statement and options for estate distribution. 

The first topic was their death and burial plans, followed by how various heirlooms and other physical assets could be distributed. They talked about where they would live as they aged and who could take care of them if they become infirm. They covered powers of attorney, living wills, executors and similar issues. 

In a second meeting, Sue and Ben told their children of plans to set up a charitable remainder trust, working with Everence® Financial.

Their children will receive a percentage of the principal for 20 years, “which will come close to matching what they’d get if given the money outright,” Ben said. The remainder of the principal then will go into an endowed scholarship fund for students expressing a desire to enter Christian service and church leadership.

To learn more about how a charitable remainder trust works and other planned gifts visit …


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