When establishing your estate plan, you generally review your assets with an attorney. This ensures you create a plan according to your wishes. Your attorney will review things like beneficiary designations to determine those designations follow your requests and provide advice on the estate plan most appropriate for your assets. The question that then arises is should I share this information with my family?
There is no right or wrong answer, and if your family member is trustworthy, you can share your estate plan. Of course, if a family member is questionable, withholding information may be in your best interest. Deciding not to tell family members about your plan may cause issues while you are alive or at your death. If you’re alive but incapacitated, how will family members pay for your expenses? At your death, family members may be caused undue stress trying to find assets, when it could have been avoided by telling them your wishes beforehand.
Ultimately, reaching a middle of the road approach is usually the best course of action. Letting family members know general information about your plan, such as a company name and type of account, will give them a starting point. Advising them your attorney, accountant and financial advisor gives them contacts who know your wishes in case you become incapacitated. Finally, keep all estate plan documents in a safe place, letting your family members know where that is in case of an emergency.
Again, there is no right or wrong way to communicate with your family about your estate planning, and some approaches may work better than others. To give yourself peace of mind, speak with an attorney to determine what will work best for you and your family.