Estate Planning and Your Heirs – How Much Should You Disclose?

Inheriting money would seem like one of life’s unabashed blessings: someone gives you a lump sum just for being you. For the rest of us, inheritors seem like a democracy’s version of royalty: born into a world of privilege we would love to know. Yet the inheritors I spoke to said they were ill equipped to handle the windfall and found that it quickly made them feel separate from their peers.

While the decision to leave wealth to your loved ones is typically an easy one, more difficult issues can be what to leave, to whom, and how. To further complicate matters, you should be asking yourself a couple of questions. Should you talk to your loved ones now about your plans and their future inheritance? If yes, then how and when should you talk about the matters?

Fortunately, The New York Times has addressed these circumstances with an article titled “What to Tell the Children About Their Inheritance and When.” Unfortunately, the article does not solve these inquiries for you. The questions of if, how, and when to inform your heirs are solely yours to resolve. They are entirely dependent upon your and your loved ones’ unique circumstances.

Nonetheless, the article does provide firsthand accounts of others’ similar situations. It seems as if more and more heirs actually want to know what is going on, and some even need to know for various reasons. Either way, there are risks involved.

A sensible approach would be to seek the counsel of your estate-planning attorney who undoubtedly can provide experience-based insights. It is prudent to learn from the successes and mistakes of others.

You can learn more about estate planning and elder law issues on our website. Be sure to sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter to stay abreast of issues like these that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.

Reference: The New York Times (July 20, 2012) “What to Tell the Children About Their Inheritance and When


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