How Detailed Should Your Family be with Estate Planning Communication?

Q: Should you reveal your exact plans for your estate and your holdings?

A lot has been made lately in news articles and studies that suggest better communication between family members is very important when it comes to end-of-life arrangements and estate plans. But there is a disagreement about how detailed the communication should be between family members. Some think revealing the entire plan and meeting disagreements and questions head-on is a good way to handle it. Others believe differently. Our expert, Marcus Seiter, weighs in:

When it comes to who gets what and who is going to be in charge after death, I don’t tell my clients that they should share with anybody, even close family members, exactly what their plans are for the distribution of their estate. But if the client asks me directly, I usually tell them that this is a matter of opinion. If they feel like telling their children or loved ones ahead of time would be helpful, then the client knows what’s best for his or her family. However, my experience has shown me that plans change because people and circumstances change. Also, people can’t really predict how family members and loved ones are going to react. And, perhaps most importantly, this is their private business, and until they eventually pass away or become incapacitated, no one needs to know.

That being said, I do think it’s very important that clients do tell family that they have done some estate planning. They should also tell anybody who might act on their behalf or any close family members or friends where they might find their documents should anything happen to them. By doing this, at the very least, the family and friends will know two things:

1) that the client has done some deliberate legal planning, and

2) loved ones will be able to act on their behalf if something happens because they will know where to find the documents

That is the goal of estate planning. If you have questions of concerns about how your family will handle your arrangements and wishes when you pass away, please give Seiter Law a call for a free consultation.

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