Keeping your Will or Estate Plan a secret often leads to more conflict than resolution. Now, I am not recommending that you publicize your estate plan to anyone and everyone and please keep in mind that you have no obligation to share the details of your will. However, it is highly beneficial for you to have a family meeting regarding your estate plan.
Promoting Family Harmony
Discussing your estate plan amongst your family creates transparency as to your wants and wishes. Your family being informed of your wants while also having your estate plan in hand, help ensure that no guilt or animosity arises in the family. Further, when one or more family members decide to challenge a will, financial gain is not the only issue at stake. A will contest can instigate hostilities among family members that can last for years and may even lead to permanent estrangement. Having a simple and frank discussion with your heirs as to your wishes can eliminate this possibility all together.
Explaining Your Decisions
Discussing your will with your heirs can grant peace of mind to everyone involved. Having a discussion creates the opportunity to explain why you decided to leave the house to one sibling and the collection of heirloom jewelry to another. Decisions which may seem obvious to you might not necessarily be easily understood by your heirs. For example, it may make sense to you to leave the vacation home to the heir who used it the most and to compensate for this by leaving a larger sum of money to another heir. While these decisions make sense to you, it may not make sense to your family on first glance. That is why it is so important to sit down and explain your thought process while you are still able to. Then there is no ability for your heirs to assume your reasoning, instead they will have the chance to hear your "why's" directly from you.
Adjusting the Inheritances
Estate planning is a sensitive issue and many individuals hesitate to disclose the details of their wills to their heirs because they fear being pressured to change their decisions. The provisions that compose your will are entirely yours to make. No one, and I mean no one, should pressure you to change your mind. Yet, it isn't unreasonable to listen to the responses of your heirs and consider making adjustments should they make sense to you. For example, you might sit down with your heirs and ask them what items within your possession are important to them. You may be surprised by the response and find out that your daughter adores a painting you never thought she paid attention to. With this new information in hand, you can make adjustments to inheritance to ensure that your property goes to those who would admire it most.
Communication is Key
Remember, part of why you create an estate plan is to help take the burden off your family and to ensure that they are taken care of. Helping your family understand your "why's" can ensure that they are in harmony, even in your absence. If you or someone you care about find yourself in need of a Will or any other estate planning documents, please reach out to The Rose Law Firm.