Should You Tell Anyone About Your Estate Plans?

Some estate planning tips.

People will often ask me if they should provide copies of estate planning documents to their loved ones. I tell them that supplying copies to other people isn’t necessary, but there are a few things to consider.

Since your estate planning documents are generally private and not published anywhere during your lifetime, you should probably take some action to let people know that you have an estate plan somewhere. If you keep your estate plan in a safe at your home, you should probably let someone know there are documents in the safe and how to access them in the case of an emergency. Renting a safe deposit box at a bank is a great idea, but you will want to verify with the bank that a loved one can access your estate planning documents if necessary.

If you have a durable power of attorney and/or a health care directive, you might want to consider providing copies of those estate planning documents to any financial institution you have an account at and to your primary care physician.

Since there are time limits for asserting claims in probate court, it is a good idea to make sure that any beneficiary, and particularly a beneficiary who might not expect to inherit something from you, knows that you have made provisions for that person. You don’t want to spend the time and resources required for estate planning only to have an intended beneficiary receive nothing because of a legal technicality.

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