Should I discuss my Will with my family?

03 May 2022 Wills, Trusts & Estates Alan Roughead

Whether or not you discuss your Will with your family is of course down to personal choice. However, having an open and honest discussion about your Will can help avoid potential arguments between family members and loved ones when you're no longer around. By talking to your family about your Will you can ensure that all your wishes are clearly laid out and agreed upon by those that matter to you most.

In particular, if you are asking people to do specific things or take on particular roles following your death, it is only polite to ask them beforehand before nominating them in your Will. For example if you are appointing someone as a guardian to your children it is important they know this and what you expect from them.

Likewise if you are appointing someone as an executor in your Will, it is best to ask them beforehand before nominating them. It’s important to think carefully when appointing an executor – it should be someone you trust, but also someone who is willing and able to take on the responsibility of the role – and you can choose more than one executor if you wish so they can share the responsibilities. The executor will have to ensure that the property you own is secure, collect all assets and money due to the estate, pay any outstanding taxes and debts out of the estate, and then distribute the estate to the people who are named as beneficiaries in the Will. If you have a large and complex estate, or don’t have anyone that you feel would be suitable for the role, you can appoint a professional executor, such as a solicitor or an accountant.

Before talking to your family and outlining your wishes and plans, consider the following:

  • Prepare – rather than waiting until there is a crisis, consider what you're going to say in advance and make some notes if necessary
  • Think about all your assets and who would benefit from receiving them
  • Consider what legacy you want to leave – whether this is to a charity or to ensure that your dependents are financially provided for in the long-run
  • Write down a summary of your wishes which you want to be included in your Will – this can make it easier for you to explain your case in the event of a disagreement
  • Don't ambush them – you might want to give them time to prepare for the conversation as well
  • Pick your time and place
  • Take on board feedback – you should not be influenced by anyone when making your Will, however listening to feedback from those you love can be

The period that immediately follows a death is always highly emotive and it’s easy for loved ones to become distressed and argue amongst each other if there isn’t a predetermined plan in place. Depending on family dynamics, there is a chance that Will disclosure during lifetime can lead to disputes, however our experience is that more often than not, clients are often surprised how balanced their children are.

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