When Do I Show My Estate Planning Documents To My Family?
By: David M. Frees III
The question of when, or even whether or not, to show adult or mature children your will or estate planning documents has no easy answer.
The best answer is that it depends.
In this, and a series of brief up coming posts, we’ll explore that question and the pros and cons of each option. In my experience (over 25 years of drafting estate planning documents for families and advising families at all levels of affluence), the answer varies depending on your personal circumstances and the particular documents. My answer, for example about when and how to share a broad durable power of attorney may be different than my answer about sharing and discussing a living will and medical power of attorney.
We will examine when to share the will, when to give an agent a copy of a medical or durable power of attorney, and when to share trusts and other documents.
Today we start with your question about when to share a will with family members.
In the case of wills, many clients never share the particulars of the will. They realize, that this document may change trough time and that who gets what assets may also change. Since no one really needs to see the document before your death, it may be enough to make sure that the family knows how to get your original will if you pass away. If you have only one or two children, and they are both appointed as co-executors, sharing that fact with them may also be prudent.
My clients who do not share the specifics of their wills, or copies of the documents, usually have a memo, or a binder. This documents contains copis of the necessary documents (in case of emergency) as well as instructions, locations or originals, passwords, and related information such as who the accountants, lawyers, insurance and financial advisers are and how to contact them.
More on these issues to come.
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