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Should you discuss your estate plan with your family?

If there is one big question that people ask when deciding to leave behind inheritances, it's this: Should you tell those receiving inheritances that you're leaving them assets?

It can be a hard decision to make. Should you let someone know that you're planning to give them something when you die? Should you simply put the correct documents in place to pass on your assets when you die instead of telling them outright?

Each situation is unique, so there is no easy answer for what to do in this situation. Full disclosure makes it easier for your family to avoid conflict if they already get along. However, if they don't, being open could cause problems. Someone who is left out or feels shortchanged in the will could have a big problem with it, while others could become eager to take what is eventually to become theirs.

What you may want to do is to talk to people you plan to leave inheritances to individually. Tell them approximately what to expect and adjust their expectations. For example, if you're leaving $30,000 to two of your adult children and $25,000 to one of them, tell your third child why they're getting less. Perhaps they're wealthier than their siblings, or maybe you've already gifted them $5,000. Whatever the reason is, if you're transparent, it could be helpful.

Your attorney can talk to you more about inheritances and what you can do to make them easier on your family. Our website has more helpful information on this and other topics related to estate planning.

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