Let’s Discuss Your Will & Trust
The death of a loved one can be difficult for anyone, and if you are left wondering what is in their will or trust, it can exacerbate a strenuous circumstance. Obtaining a copy of a will or trust from a living parent or family member can be a delicate matter, but it is important to ensure that you are prepared for any eventuality.
Step 1: Start the Conversation
If you are considering asking for a copy of a will or trust, it is essential to approach the matter with sensitivity and tact, as discussing end-of-life planning can be emotionally charged for many people. Explaining that you want to ensure that their wishes are carried out after their death is imperative; obtaining a copy of their will or trust can assist with that. Be prepared to answer any questions they may have, and provide reassurance that you are not trying to overtake or commandeer their affairs.
If your parent or family member agrees to provide you with a copy of their will or trust, confirming that it is a valid and up-to-date document is important. It is a good idea to seek legal advice to ensure that the will or trust is legally binding and that there are no issues that could cause complications down the line.
If your parent or family member is unwilling to provide you with a copy of their will or trust, it is vital to respect their wishes. Beneficiaries and heirs have no legal entitlement to a will or trust while the Settlor is living. This is because both wills and trusts are private documents; the terms of a will or trust are private until the person passes, and the documents become irrevocable. Therefore, they have the sole discretion to revise or withhold any information or terms of the estate document from whomever they choose.
Step 2: Know the Legal Requirements
In some cases, your loved one may need to take specific legal steps to provide you with a copy of their will or trust. For example, if they have appointed an attorney or executor to handle their estate while living, they may need to give permission for that person to release the document to you.
Additionally, some states require that wills and trusts be notarized or witnessed by a certain number of people in order to be considered valid. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the legal requirements in your state to ensure that you are following the proper procedures.
Step 3: Consider Seeking Legal Advice
If your loved one is hesitant to provide you with a copy of their will or trust, or if you are unsure of the legal requirements, it may be helpful to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in estate planning. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legalities and provide guidance on how to obtain a copy of the document.
Step 4: Respect Your Loved One’s Wishes
Ultimately, either choice your parent or loved one makes in deciding to disclose their estate document needs to be respected and accepted.
Pressuring a parent or loved one in any aspect related to their estate documents can have legal implications down the line. If you are made privy to the details of their estate document by a loved one, it is essential to adhere to their wishes, even if they do not align with your expectations. The purpose of estate documents is to preserve and record one’s independent choices, so long as they are cognizant in making them and of sound mind.
By approaching the conversation with empathy and respect, familiarizing yourself with the legal requirements, and seeking the advice of an attorney if necessary, you can help ensure that the process is as seamless as possible for everyone involved.