Once you have an estate plan in place, you may be wondering whether you should share the plan with those most impacted by it? This is an extremely personal decision that everyone has to make for themselves, but here are some things to consider:

Is there anything outside the ordinary in your giving?

This could include a gift to someone outside the family or to a charity or an unequal distribution among children. Occasionally a parent may want to leave more resources to a child who is struggling or who has more challenges to overcome. This could be painful to the other children when that was never the intent. Open honest communication about your desires and motivations could help ease hurt feelings that could unnecessarily intensify the mourning process.

Is there anything outside the ordinary in the people you’ve chosen to act on your behalf?

Often there is a person that just makes sense to act in a certain role. Someone may be better with finances or live closer or have more space in their lives to take on additional responsibilities. Then there are decisions that involve more weighing of factors and the end result could be something that could unintentionally hurt feelings or take someone off guard by putting them in a position they aren’t able or willing to take on. Discussing your plan with loved ones can help to get everyone on the same page. It may even challenge you to reconsider some choices and the end result could be a smoother process for everyone.

Could questions about your desires for end of life care or final arrangements lead to unnecessary stress among your loved ones?

Do you want your healthcare agent to keep you in your home for as long as possible towards the end of your life? Are you adamant that you want to be cremated when most of your family has been buried next to family in your home state? Making these and other wishes known to all of your loved ones can help them honor you and your memory without second guessing themselves or each other about how to do it well.

At a minimum, regardless of whether you share all of the details of your estate plan with all of your loved ones, we always recommend letting your key people know that you have chosen them to act on your behalf. Making this clear, will empower them in cases of emergency, and help to minimize stress during what is often a very difficult time.

If you need to put an estate plan in place or if you would like to sit down to review the effectiveness of your current plan, please feel free to reach out to me. I would love the opportunity to become your trusted estate planning advisor.