If you or someone you know has been a beneficiary of an estate, you may have been exposed to the frustration and disagreements that can occur when details of an estate plan are kept secret until a parent dies.
The frustration may have resulted from an unequal distribution of the estate, or a large asset, like a family home, passing in an unexpected way. Additionally, there was likely to have been more dissatisfaction if the beneficiary was part of a blended family. According to a recent USB Investor Watch Report, about half of beneficiaries in blended families report dissatisfaction with the inheritance process.
Whether you are part of a nuclear or blended family, sharing the details of your estate plan can limit disagreements after your death. Yet it is a topic very few people broach with their loved ones. According to the report, about half of those surveyed had not discussed their dispositive plans with their children.
This is a problem because the likelihood of dissatisfaction increases when heirs are kept in the dark about the details of an estate plan. When details are known in advance, an overwhelming majority of heirs are satisfied with the inheritance process. In contrast, heirs are twice as likely to be unsatisfied with the distribution process when plans are kept secret.
Sharing your estate plan with your family members may be uncomfortable. It may seem as though there is never a good time to bring it up, or you may worry that your children may get too emotional about the subject, feel entitled to your money, or upset if you tell them you intend to distribute your estate unequally.
However, by sharing your plans and the reasons for your choices, you can reduce the likelihood that a family squabble will result in discord after you die.
For more information about how to broach this important topic with your loved ones, read: How To Talk To Your Family About Estate Planning.