When you begin estate planning, you should consider what to tell your family members about your estate plan. What you tell them, and what you don’t tell them, could have an impact on everyone in the future.
Should You Tell Relatives Who Inherits?
Unfortunately, estate plans can lead to conflict among family members. If someone finds out that he will inherit little or nothing, he could have hard feelings. You know your family best, so you will have to decide whether to disclose your plans now or keep them to yourself.
Keep in mind that family members may get mad about an estate plan only after you pass away. This is why having an official will and other documents, in a location where they can be found after your death, is very important. You care about having your wishes carried out, so make sure the documents you use to communicate your wishes meet all legal requirements. A lawyer can help you do this.
Should You Tell Relatives Where the Important Documents Are?
Your family will need to find your will and other estate planning documents in order to carry out your wishes. Sometimes, family members cannot find the will or financial documents until several weeks or months after the death, leading to delays in funeral arrangements and paying bills. It is important to tell someone where you keep important papers.
You may choose to tell one family member, or none. You can keep the will in a sealed envelope, or in a locked safe. It is up to you. But keep in mind that in the future someone will need to find the documents and read them. One option is to put copies of your documents in multiple places. You could leave one copy with your estate planning lawyer and one in a locked desk drawer, with the key in an obvious place.
Should You Give Relatives Your Passwords?
In the Internet age, nearly everyone has some personal information stored online and protected by passwords. Your relatives may need to access this information to settle your estate. For example, you could have an online securities account that will go to a family member when you die.
California has a new law called the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act that allows you to designate one person who can access your online accounts after your death. That way you do not have to tell all your family members your passwords, but they are not locked out of accounts forever.
You should consider preparing a document that lists all your online accounts so that none get forgotten. Also, you may want to specify in your will or another document how your relatives can use your accounts. For example, you can say that you want your Facebook page preserved but your Instagram page deleted. It is up to you.
Planning your estate and wondering what to tell your family? Angela Klenk, Esq. and the team at Beach Cities Estate Law couple personalized attention to your estate plan with big law firm experience for a winning combination to give you peace of mind. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Beach Cities Estate Law online or call Angela’s office at (424) 400-2125.