When people are putting together a plan for their future in California, often their first thought is not about telling everyone what they are doing. In fact, creating a customized estate plan is a private process and one that involves the discussion of sensitive information and confidential parts of a person’s life. However, are there some people in their family who should be at least generally aware of what is happening?

The answer may come as a surprise to some, but certain family members or friends should in fact, be made aware of a person’s plan for their estate. While this does not extend to anyone, people should inform those they have listed as beneficiaries, heirs, executors and witnesses of their intentions, as well as what their role entails for the smooth execution of their estate plan. According to a study conducted by Merrill Lynch, nearly 65 percent of wealth holders who have made designations of their assets, have never said anything about their intentions to the family members who they have listed as heirs.

While a seemingly simple oversight, people named as heirs who are kept in the dark may miss out on invaluable opportunities to understand their role and what to expect once the policyholder passes away. In fact, only 22 percent of people are willing to discuss the details of their plan without having reservations about what they are sharing. Experts suggest that allotment of assets may be a powerful experience for heirs, but could be more meaningful when they understand why they were named as an heir and what will happen when their loved one dies.

If people are interested in forming an estate plan, an attorney can help them begin putting one together. A qualified legal professional can provide helpful insight in creating a customized plan for anyone’s future.

 Source: Oaoa.com, “Heirs in the Dark on Family Wealth Decisions, Finds Study by Merrill Private Wealth Management,” Jul. 31, 2019