Trusted attorneys for Estate Planning and Administration, Real Estate and Tax Matters.

Do you have to explain your decisions in your will?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Wills |

When you write your will, you certainly may know exactly why you’re making specific decisions. You know why you’re giving a certain percentage of your money to a specific beneficiary, for example, or why you have divided the family heirlooms the way you have.

But do you have to explain these decisions? Say that you have $1 million to leave your two beneficiaries, but you don’t want to split it up evenly. You’re going to leave $200,000 to one and $800,000 to the other. They certainly may have questions about why you did this, but are you obligated to answer those questions?

There is no legal obligation

First and foremost, no, you do not have to explain your decisions. Your estate plan can simply state how you want your assets to be divided, and the estate administrator will follow those instructions.

That said, to avoid disputes, it can be best to leave some explanation behind. People often write a letter, which is sometimes called an explanatory letter or a letter of instruction

This can be more personal and less formal than the estate plan itself. For instance, you could take a paragraph to simply explain to your adult children that you know they have different financial needs and so you’re trying to divide the money up in a way that is fair, even if it’s not perfectly even. A simple letter like this can sometimes stave off disputes and make your intentions clear.

There are many different documents that you can consider when drafting a will and estate plan. Be sure you know exactly how they can help you and all of the options you have when getting your plan in place.