Should I Discuss My Estate Plan with My Heirs?
Author: Stacy Hanley
As we all know, one of the main objectives of estate planning is to give you the ability to decide how and when your assets will be divided upon your death. This preparation gives you security in knowing your remaining wealth and belongings will be left in good hands, and at the proper time.
When it comes to planning your estate, you essentially have the final word. You determine who is positioned best to receive certain assets, as well as who is most deserving of them. You determine the conditions for beneficiaries to claim what you have left for them, as well as a back-up plan in case those conditions are not met.
All of this is to say that at the end of the day, even with your advisor’s recommendations, estate planning is your decision based on your wishes.
That being said, any experienced estate planning attorney will tell you that more often than not, it can be extremely beneficial to openly discuss your estate plan with your heirs/named beneficiaries ahead of time.
Creating opportunities for an open dialogue regarding the plans for your estate:
- Can remove the “shock factor” many heirs experience when they receive either far more or far less than what they expected
- Allows your heirs to voice any objections they might have to your plan
- Reduces the possibility of ill will and disputes from/between your heirs
- Can put the minds of your heirs at ease knowing you have a secure plan in place
- Allows your heirs to plan ahead and discuss their intentions for the assets they are to receive
For example, let’s say you have a beloved family vacation home. In your will, you decide to leave the property to your oldest daughter—she has the most memories there, and you perceive that, of all of her siblings, she has the strongest emotional connection to the home. Well, what if she unexpectedly decides years down the road to sell the property, despite the fact that she and her siblings had always planned to vacation there with their own children one day? Neither you nor your other children saw this coming, so you did not set any conditions in place regarding your intentions for the home’s use.
Situations like these arise all the time, resulting in heartbreak, tension, and sometimes even legal disputes. The best way to prevent this from occurring is to verbally express your wishes for your assets with your heirs and your estate planning advisor to make the most informed decision possible and set precautions in place to ensure your wishes are carried out.
Estate Planning with Lefkoff-Duncan
When it comes to estate planning, sooner is always better than later, and Lefkoff-Duncan is here to help. Our experienced team will assist you in all of your estate planning endeavors so that you’ll never again need to wonder if you’ve done enough to take care of the ones you love.
Contact us today to learn more.