There are many number of decisions that must be made when you are creating your estate plan. Along with decisions that directly concern the plan itself, you will also, at some point, need to decide whether or not to share any of the details of the plan with anyone else. As with all decisions related to your estate plan, this is a decision only you can make; however, whether or not you share any of the details may depend, to some extent, on whom you are considering sharing the information.
- Executor/Guardian/Trustee: Most estate plans include the appointment of at least an executor of the Will. Many also include the appointment of a trustee and possibly a guardian for minor children. These positions carry with them significant duties and should not be made lightly. As such, it is best to discuss your intentions with the intended appointee ahead of time to be certain that he or she is willing and able to serve in the position.
- Spouse or Partner: Whether or not you discuss your estate plan in detail with your spouse or partner may depend on the structure of your assets as well as whether or not you have children in common. For couples who have children in common or who own a number of jointly held assets, sharing the details of an intended estate plan may be pragmatic. For those who do not fall into one of those two categories, the decision to discuss estate plans is more of a personal decision.
- Beneficiaries: This decision is often the most difficult and most emotionally charged. There is often no practical reason to divulge details of your estate plan with beneficiaries. Discussing the details will allow beneficiaries to plan ahead, yet it may also cause conflict if not all beneficiaries are pleased with the details.
However, once you have a basic idea of your concerns and goals, the next step is to meet with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney to clarify and implement your plans. This planning is too important to leave to do-it-yourself forms found all too commonly on the internet.