One of the decisions you have to make about your estate plan is what details you share with your family. Much will depend upon your particular circumstances. What works for one family might not be the best for another.
What are the advantages of talking to your family about your estate plan?
You will probably find that the advantages of talking about your estate plan to your family outweigh the joy of a surprise:
- It gives your family the knowledge they need: Forewarned is forearmed. At the very least, you should tell some members of your family where to find specific documents and who to contact to handle your estate.
- It lets you prepare them to handle money: If you intend to leave a considerable sum to your child, consider if they have the maturity and knowledge to cope. It may be best to talk to them now, so you can teach them to take care of it. If you are leaving a business to someone, involving them sooner is crucial for a smooth transition.
- It can help you make them happy: It would be a shame to leave your daughter your beloved beach house if she secretly hates it. By talking with your family, you may discover each of them has preferences or dislikes of certain items.
- It allows them to understand your decisions: The last thing you want is for your family to fight over who got what. Once you are dead, you cannot explain the reasons for your decisions. By talking to your family now, you give them a chance to understand your wishes.
- It allows you to account for their financial circumstances: Maybe one of your children is considering divorce but has not told you yet. They might prefer you put money in a trust to avoid half of it going to their soon to be ex-spouse.
While you should always seek legal advice when making an estate plan, you may find your family’s input useful. After all, they know themselves and you better than anyone does.