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The dangers of keeping some things completely secret

People can view their wishes and desires as very private things. So, these are things they could be particularly likely to keep to themselves. However, there are some desires that it can be important to not keep entirely secret.

This includes the wishes one has for what will happen with their hard-earned assets after they pass away. If a person keeps such wishes entirely to themselves, and doesn’t put them into a legally enforceable document, there can be a high chance that the post-death distribution of their assets will go very differently than how they would have wanted.

Estate planning devices, such as wills, give individuals a way to express their wishes regarding the post-death treatment of their assets in a legally enforceable form.

However, there are some things that could put even wishes expressed in estate planning documents at risk of not being followed through on.

One is if mistakes are made in such a document that cause the document to be unenforceable or to have a different effect than what was intended. So, avoiding errors when forming such documents can be critical. Given this, estate planning is something a person may want to bring some help in on. They may want to have a skilled estate planning lawyer’s guidance during the formation and updating of their various estate planning documents.

Another thing that could result in wishes expressed in estate planning documents not being followed is if no one knows where these documents are when the person dies. If such documents ultimately go unfound after a person’s death, the process of determining how their assets will be divided could become much more messy and end up deviating from a person’s wishes.

Given this, the location of their estate planning documents is another thing that it can be important for a person to not keep entirely secret. So, in addition to staying free of errors when it comes to such documents and keeping such documents safe, another thing that can be a key step when it comes estate planning documents is making sure that enough information has been provided to others so that the documents will be found after one’s death.

Source: CNBC, “Take this secret to the grave, and it'll cost you,” Kelli B. Grant, April 6, 2017

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