It may be prudent to inform your adult children of your estate plan

The Wall Street Journal has observed that "for many parents, it is easier to talk to their children about sex than money." Indeed, telling children what they stand to inherit can be a subject "fraught with emotional land mines" for many parents. Some parents prefer to keep the matter of their last wishes private. Wealthy parents may be afraid to discuss their estate plan with their children because they fear ruining their children's work ethic or giving them a harmful sense of entitlement.

Without doubt, having a conversation with your children about what they can and cannot expect to inherit can be stressful and awkward for parents. As noted on the Time magazine website, many parents simply chose to avoid what they perceive as the unpleasant task of sitting down and talking to their children about their estate planning objectives. Unfortunately, children who are blindsided by the terms of a will may lash out against their siblings. Some may be angry enough to consider contesting the will or making life extremely difficult for the executor of the estate.

One estate planning decision that often threatens to touch off a veritable civil war among siblings is when an estate is going to be distributed to children unequally. AARP advises that, if you chose to distribute your estate unequally, you should explain this decision to your children if you believe that this will avoid a family schism. There are often good reasons why an unequal distribution of an estate is made. If you are prepared to logically explain to your children why an unequal distribution of your estate makes sense, this could alleviate the chances for family bickering after you pass.

Another possible source for familial discord pertains to keepsakes and heirlooms. Bequests of items with great sentimental value, such as a mother's diamond engagement ring, often bring out the worst in siblings following a parent's passing. It might be wise to give each child the opportunity to speak up and declare which items of personal property they would like to receive. You could then take the children's wishes into account and try to divide-as equally as possible-the family mementos and heirlooms.

Holding a meeting

There are no hard-and-fast rules for how to tell your children about their inheritance. Many parents prefer to convene a family meeting in order to gather all of the children together and clear the air-hopefully once and for all-about what each child can expect to inherit.

The Next Avenue website advises that, before holding the meeting, you may wish to take the time to determine the goals and objectives you want to achieve and then draft an outline with a few talking points. It is further advised that you consider having your attorney draft a summary of your estate plan. This summary could be distributed to your heirs in advance of the family meeting and everyone would have the opportunity to review the synopsis and formulate any questions they would like to ask. During the meeting, you should explain your estate planning objectives in a confident and calming tone and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to ask questions.

Seek legal counsel

If you are concerned about the financial security of your loved ones, but have put off estate planning, you should call a California attorney experienced in developing estate plans as soon as possible.