WPM: Should I tell my family about my Will?
There is no legal requirement to tell your family that you have made a Will or what might be in it. However, there are advantages to sharing this information.
Making a Will is an extremely personal matter, but this does not necessarily mean you must keep it private. Telling close relatives that you have a Will in place and where they may locate this could be extremely helpful to them when the time comes to needing this information. Relatives simply knowing that there is a valid Will can give a starting point in dealing with your estate after you die.
A Will usually appoints executors to deal with the administration of your estate and this is a role that can bring huge responsibility. Where an executor is unaware that they have been appointed they may be surprised to learn of their role and feel under more pressure at an already difficult time. Advising your appointed executors that they are named in your Will to carry out this role gives them the opportunity to digest this and understand what may be required of them.
There is no obligation for you to tell your executors about any of the other provisions in your Will but there are circumstances where this might be helpful. If you have left a gift to an individual for a particular reason or you have not included a person in your Will who might expect to inherit from you, it could be helpful for your executors to know the reason for this decision, so that they can ensure these wishes are known and carried out after you die. If you feel comfortable discussing this with the individual themselves, this could also be helpful, as it could avoid a shock for that person at an already difficult time, and/or the risk of that person causing upset or animosity towards your executors or other beneficiaries after your death.
Through making a Will yourself and telling relatives you have done this, you may also inspire others to do the same. It is important for everyone to have a Will regardless of how small we might think our assets. Hearing that a loved one has recently made a Will could encourage others to do the same and ensure that their wishes are in place.
Whilst the above are all positive reasons for sharing details about your Will, there are still reasons for not disclosing that you have made a Will or the contents. The biggest of these is confidentiality and wishing to keep your personal and financial matters private until after your death. You may also be worried that family will tell other people. Alternatively, you may be concerned that relatives that you have told about the existence of your Will might begin to wonder about the contents and ask you directly about these or try to influence you to change it. If you do not feel comfortable revealing information about your Will, you do not have to. However, it is important that at least one relative knows where to find your Will so that your estate can be administered in accordance with your wishes.
This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org