Once the ink is dry on your estate plan, you have some decisions to make about whom you’ll share your plan with – and how much detail you’ll go into.
These are always very personal decisions, and what you decide to do will depend largely on your personal beliefs and the dynamics within your family.
But, to the extent that you’re comfortable in doing so, it’s a good idea to discuss your estate plan with your family. And here’s why:
- It Gives You a Chance to Explain: Your estate plan won’t necessarily convey all of your reasons for distributing your estate the way you’ve chosen to, or for choosing one child over another to serve as your successor trustee. And, it can be a hard thing for your loved ones to come face to face with these realities after you’ve passed away and aren’t there to soften the blow with an explanation. A word of explanation can go a long way toward easing hurt feelings that might otherwise last for years after you’ve passed away.
- It Can Minimize Conflict: If you’re avoiding having “the discussion” with your family members because you fear conflict, just think about how much more heated things might get when you’re no longer there to mediate and explain your choices. Battles between loved ones can stall the probate process, deplete your estate’s assets, and cause irreparable damage to a family. Talking things through while you’re still here to offer an explanation can save your family untold amounts of time, money and stress down the road.
No matter where you stand on this issue, there is a bare minimum that your loved ones should know about your plan. This includes:
- The fact that you have a plan;
- The name and contact information for your estate planning attorney; and
- Where your estate planning documents can be found when they’re needed.
Plus, you’ll want to tell your fiduciaries that you’ve selected them for particular roles, and what their duties will be.