Creating a comprehensive estate plan is one of the most important things you can do for you and for your loved ones. Creating your initial estate plan is only the first step though toward ensuring that you, your assets, and your loved ones are protected. You will also need to review and revise that plan over the course of your lifetime to ensure that it reflects your current needs and wishes. You should also take some time to consider how much of your estate plan you wish to share with your loved ones. The Creve Coeur estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC offer some guidance with regard to deciding how much of your estate plan to disclose and to whom it should be disclosed.
The Benefits of a Comprehensive Estate Plan
A well thought out plan can protect your assets as well as help them grow during your lifetime and then ensure that they are distributed according to your wishes after you are gone. That same plan can contemplate the very real possibility of your own incapacity at some point during your lifetime and make sure that the person of your choice has the legal authority to step in and make decisions for you and/or control your assets. If you own a business, a business succession component can help protect your financial interest in the business and make sure it makes a successful transition to the next generation. Additional components such as Medicaid planning, special needs planning, and funeral and burial planning can help achieve even more of your goals and objectives. Whether you create an elaborate estate plan, or a relatively simple one, it will be deeply personal and will likely contain a fair amount of highly sensitive information. With this in mind, how much of that plan should you disclose to family members and other loved ones?
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Disclosure
Ultimately, you are the only person who can decide whether or not to disclose any of the details of your estate plan to anyone. If you do decide to disclose anything, you will need to decide how much to disclose and to whom. There are advantages and disadvantages that go along with disclosure.
One major advantage to disclosing the terms regarding the distribution of assets found in your estate plan is that any conflict, discussion, or confusion that those terms cause can be settled now, while you are hear to make sure it is settled as you would intend. Once you are gone, any challenge to your Will or other estate planning document must be settled by a court, without the benefit of knowing your intentions. It also helps beneficiaries to plan their future finances to have some idea what inheritance that will receive (or not receive as the case may be). Even if you choose not to share the details of your estate plan with beneficiaries and heirs, it is always a good idea to provide fiduciaries, such as your Executor or a Trustee, with original copies of your estate planning documents as they may need them in a hurry if something happens to you.
The primary disadvantage to disclosing the terms of your estate plan is that it may, indeed, create conflict among your beneficiaries and heirs. Inevitably, someone ends up unhappy with their inheritance (or lack thereof) or offended because they were not appointed as Executor, for example. Another disadvantage worth mentioning is that once you divulge the terms of your estate plan, beneficiaries may begin to rely on their anticipated inheritance. If you change those terms at a later date, or your estate suffers a financial setback during your later years, those same beneficiaries could end up rather disappointed.
In the end, the decision is yours to make; however, if you are uncertain it is best to discuss your options with your estate planning attorney before making that decision.
Contact the Creve Coeur Estate Planning Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns about your estate plan, contact the experienced Creve Coeur estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.