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Why you should be upfront about what's in your will

When most people consider their will, they think of who they'll give certain items to. However, when you start your will, you'll also have to consider a number of responsibilities you'll delegate to your beneficiaries.

It's important to voice these decisions in advance. Here are just a few reasons why it's not a good idea to be secretive about the choices you make in your will.

Remember wills are public

Not everyone realizes that wills become a matter of public record once the testator has passed. That means if you choose to omit someone from your inheritance, they'll probably find out along with everyone else.

As a rule of thumb, take consideration in how other people will interpret your wishes while working with an attorney to write your will.

Prevent family squabbles

Telling your beneficiaries what they should expect to gain can prevent family squabbles in probate court. Studies have shown that many people tend to believe they're entitled to more than they actually get.

Similarly, if you have any traditions of handing down a treasured family heirloom, you could save everyone a lot of time and anguish by being explicit about how succession should work.

Delegate responsibilities appropriately

There is a range of responsibilities you can assign to beneficiaries through your will, with some being greater than others. For example, if you have any pets, you'll need to pick someone to care for them. It's a good idea to talk to this person beforehand to ensure that they are willing and able to care for your pets.

You can also choose who will manage your estate after your passing. This person is known as the executor of your estate. Some people choose their bank or lawyer as their executor because this responsibility requires settling debts, distributing assets to beneficiaries and managing the estate. If you decide to appoint a beneficiary as your executor, make sure you discuss the responsibilities this role has with them ahead of time, so they're not overwhelmed by them.

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