Creating an estate plan ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. Depending on the estate planning tools you use, they can also protect your assets and help you plan for long-term care needs in your senior years.
Clients often wonder whether they should share the details of their estate plans with their families while they’re still living. Here’s what to consider before you make a decision.
The main benefit of talking about your estate plan is to avoid surprises if something unexpected happens. For example, it’s usually helpful for your named personal representative to have a general idea of your overall estate plan, where to find your will, trust documents, powers of attorney, and any end-of-life or funeral planning wishes. This will take some of the stress away in their time of grief.
Secondly, if you believe your estate planning choices will be controversial, you may want to warn your loved ones ahead of time. Making your wishes clear ahead of time reduces the likelihood of litigation later. This can be especially helpful if you’re leaving uneven sums to presumptive heirs, disinheriting someone or simply have unusual requests.
Finally, informing others about your estate plan is beneficial in the event you become incapacitated. If you’ve designated someone as your healthcare or financial power of attorney, discussing their role and reiterating your wishes will help make sure they’re informed and ready if something unexpected happens.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to share every detail—although you may wish to share some specifics with your spouse, powers of attorney and personal representative. Often, a simple statement like “I plan to leave equal shares of all my assets to my adult children” or “I’m leaving my grandmother’s jewelry to my cousin” is plenty of warning.
Of course, there are drawbacks, too. Many people simply want to keep the details of their financial situation and estate plan private. Interpersonal dynamics may also play a role in your decision. Discussing your intentions could reignite family conflicts or cause a new conflict, depending on how controversial your decisions may appear to others.
Ultimately, everyone’s situation is unique. Your estate planning attorney can help you weigh the decision and make the right choice for you.
To create your own comprehensive estate plan, call James Bart Leonardi, LLC today.