Do I Need to Inform My Beneficiaries That They’ll Be Receiving Items from My Estate?

After you’ve crafted an estate plan, how do you feel about telling some or all your beneficiaries that you have left property behind. Does it matter whether or not you tell them exactly what you’ve left them? There are not any laws requiring you to inform your beneficiaries anything about your decisions.

You can provide for your beneficiaries without informing them at all. You might decide that there are good reasons, such as the possibility for family conflict that will lead you to decide not to reveal how you’re leaving your property. Letting your beneficiaries know what they’ll receive, however, gives them some peace of mind about the future and can help your loved ones plan ahead.

Happy family with husband, wife, child, grandfather and grandmother choosing food and drinks in bar

In many cases, however, informing beneficiaries of what they can expect to receive from your estate only serves as the basis for more family conflict. If siblings perceive that another member of the family has received more than their fair share, this can lead to conflict while you’re still alive, or even challenges to your existing estate plan after you pass away.

You might want to discuss with your estate planning attorney whether or not it makes sense to inform particular beneficiaries about what they can anticipate. With sentimental family heirlooms, your loved ones may have specific requests, and you might wish to honor these by not only naming these in your estate plan but informing the beneficiary that he or she can expect to receive it when you pass away. Be aware of the possible consequences, however, of sharing with only certain members of the family and excluding others. This approach in and of itself can also lead to family conflict.       

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