Here we are right in the middle of tax season and like most people, you’ve likely been hard at work preparing (or finishing up) your tax returns. The majority of people probably don’t feel comfortable sharing the financial details of their tax returns unless of course, they have to, say for a mortgage. However, your estate plan, a vital element of keeping your affairs in order, is not the same. You may be wondering whether your family should be familiarized with the finer points of your estate plan or not.
Advice for What to Share & With Whom
Often, many people are uncertain about when and what they should share with their families when it comes to their estate plan so you are certainly not alone when deciding what to do. Your reasons for concern may be many, ranging from the worry of creating family tension to unease over the fact that introducing the subjects of healthcare directives and powers of attorney isn’t exactly dinner conversation.
Be that as it may, the benefits of involving your family on some of your estate plan’s key points should not be ignored, this is especially important in regards to your incapacity planning. When your family is made aware of your wishes and can understand how they’re disclosed in your directed powers of attorney and health care proxy, they will be better able to implement those wishes if and when the need arises. Further, informing your family about your preferences regarding incapacity will guard them against an additional level of stress and confusion.
Of course, it is not necessary for you to reveal every detail of your estate plan with your family but it does not have to be an inflexible decision in respects to sharing anything at all. Read on to learn how you may choose to familiarize your estate plan with your family.
Option #1: Share Entire Estate Plan with Everyone
While complete transparency is always an option it may not always be the best choice depending on your own unique family dynamics. A high level of openness like this is typically only appropriate you are anticipating needing assistance soon or by this time have already been receiving support from a successor trustee and/or another representative.
Something to consider is what you might like to know if the roles were switched and you were in your family members position. Sharing too much information can easily become overwhelming and potentially cause family disputes. While at the same time, sharing too little information can lead to misunderstandings, stress, and often time delays when the time to act and make decisions comes.
If you would like to share the complete and authentic documents with your family, we can work with you to provide both paper or electronic copies to the family members that need them.
Option #2: Share Estate Plan Essentials with Everyone
Occasionally, presenting a summary of your wishes and intentions is a more effective option than divulging every detail. When taking the summary route, discuss exactly how your estate plan is meant to function with the inclusion of any information regarding specific assets. An example of this would be to tell your loved ones about the nature of the documents in your plan and what the purpose of each of them is. This allows your family to be aware of who will be in charge of certain broad decisions and give them a general idea of how the management and distribution of your assets will take place.
This could mean describing the first steps of how your healthcare directives, powers of attorney, and chosen trusts work. We understand the need for prudence in these situations and will be here to assist you on how to best describe your estate plan in a simple yet direct way. We may even be able to support you with a family meeting.
Option #3: Share your Estate Plan Point People
One more route you could take if you are not inclined to share every component of your estate plan is to only disclose who you have selected to maintain the varying roles within your plan. Inform your family who will be your trustees, executors, healthcare agents, and any others so there will be no surprises or disappointment. This way, when the time arrives, your family will know who to look to and will have had time to accept (if disputed) your decisions as they are indeed your decisions to make.
Furthermore, if you sign a waiver with us, we can be authorized to furnish copies of your estate plan documents in the event of your incapacity or death. This option helps your family to be better prepared for the future while preventing them from becoming overwhelmed with specific details and also maintain a greater degree of privacy for you.
Does your Point People List Need an Update?
As you consider exactly how much information you might share with your family, take the opportunity to review your list of appointed individuals. If you were to redo your plan today would you choose the same person as your successor trustee, healthcare agent, or child guardian? Even if you’re simply having second thoughts about who will be the caretaker for your pets, estate plan changes like these are typically straightforward yet incredibly important so your estate plan functions as you intend it.
We’re always here to help if you have any concerns, questions, or need to make changes.
Estate Planning & the Practical Aspect of Sharing
It is possible that none of the previously mentioned options will suit you and your family’s unique needs, and that is just fine. At Syntero Group, we take a client-centered approach and work with you to create a custom-tailored strategy.
If you would like to learn more or to get help sharing your estate plan with your loved ones or identifying what information to share, please call or contact online the skilled and experienced estate planning team at Syntero Group today!