Some people want to keep their estate plans secret from friends and relatives. Many do this simply because they don't want to disappoint anyone, cause any friction, or otherwise upset loved ones. Keeping a will, a trust, or another estate planning document private is your decision, but you may want to consider some important reasons why transparency may also be beneficial.
Transparency Helps Prepare Heirs on How to Handle Your Tennessee Estate
Do you have a business or farm? If so, then you want to make sure your heirs know how you want it handled. Your small business or farm is part of your legacy. You want to make sure that that legacy includes a clear plan for your family: They need to know how to manage the farm or business. And you need confidence that they want to manage the farm or business and that they are able to do so.
Transparency Reduces Confusion and Delays Upon Your Death
You may be worried about causing a rift between your children by telling them how you intend to distribute your assets. Maybe you just don't like discussing money matters with family. Understand that by not discussing your plan with your family, you may inadvertently cause greater conflict. Heirs who do not know where to find financial documents, how to locate scattered assets, what debts you owe, and how your assets are to be distributed can create confusion and distrust. Those situations can even permanent damage to your children's relationship with each other.
Transparency Allows for a Smoother Process in Tennessee
Heirs should know where to find important documents like:
- vehicle titles
- financial paperwork, and
- estate planning documents
Many headaches can be avoided if your family knows where these documents are located. In fact, as part of a transparency effort, you should make a list of the following:
- credit cards and other creditors and account information for each;
- all major assets such as real estate and bank accounts, including account numbers and their locations (whether in Clarksville, Springfield, Dickson, or another location in Tennessee, or outside the state)
- insurance policies, pensions, and retirement accounts;
- all financial accounts and their respective account information (e.g., account numbers, location, passwords); and
- any other document or account information your heirs will need to know.
Transparency Means Children Know What to Do if You Become Incapacitated
In case you become incapacitated at some point in your life, you should have a financial power of attorney, a living will, and a medical power of attorney in place so that all your financial and medical needs are managed according to your preferences. Informing children of whom you have chosen to act as your power of attorney or where your living will or advance health care directive is located does two things:
- It minimizes the burden children feel when making these decisions for their parents without knowing what their parents would have wanted; and
- It clarifies who has the legal right to make financial decisions and clearly lays out what medical decisions an incapacitated parent wants – so there is no question or speculation.
Transparency Means Informing Heirs Who is the Executor of the Tennessee Estate
Speaking with your family. Let them know who you are asking to serve as executor of your estate. By doing so, your family does not have to speculate who will be managing the estate, distributing property, and paying debts. Through this discussion, you can learn of any problems that may arise after your death and offer solutions to those issues.
The Key Takeaway
Estate planning in Tennessee is an essential process if you want to ensure your family is protected upon your death. But part of that protection is communicating with your family about the details of your estate plan. Transparency can go along way to ensure heirs get what you intended them to get without much stress and controversy.