Some people believe that they should keep their estate plan secret. They think they should leave it to the executor to inform their family of their wishes.
While that approach would potentially make for some great theater, high drama is the last thing your family will need when you’ve breathed your last. They’ll thank you for anything you have done to ease them through those difficult moments. Informing them of your estate plan while alive is one of the best ways to minimize stress related to your estate.
It gives you a chance to answer their concerns
“Dad, why are you leaving Jon twice as much money as me?” could soon become, “Jon, what underhand tactics did you use to persuade Dad to leave you more than me? I’m going to challenge Dad’s will in court,” if the difference is only discovered after your death.
There is no rule stating that you need to leave your kids equal amounts. In fact, there’s no rule requiring you to leave them anything at all. Yet, such discrepancies can leave people feeling hard done by or suspecting that someone manipulated you. Explaining your reasons for structuring your estate in certain whys while you are alive can help people understand and accept your choices, reducing the chance of family conflicts.
It informs them of how to proceed
If you sit your family down around the dinner table and explain who you have chosen as executor, who you have given powers of attorney and so on, it can help them get organized after you’re gone. Otherwise, they may struggle to know where to begin. Knowing you have plans in place will likely be reassuring for them.
These are just two good reasons to consider telling at least some of your family about your estate plan. To learn more about how to approach the process of estate planning, don’t hesitate to see legal guidance at any time.