“This coordinated lying between us is exhausting, how do criminals manage?”
With careful coordination, my wife and I were able to keep the truth about Santa Claus from our children for several years. During that time, neither of us wanted to be the bearer of bad news about Santa to the kids. When they were eventually told the truth, how traumatic and disappointing it was for them to learn that it was their father, not Santa, who had enjoyed the cookies and milk left out on Christmas Eve.
In the estate planning context, I can understand the desire of some of our clients to avoid having to disappoint loved ones. Some clients don’t want to bear bad news to potential beneficiaries about an inheritance amount or percentage. These “Minnesota nice” clients would rather live in the more comfortable ambiguity by not facing the disappointment of potential beneficiaries.
In this month’s update, I briefly summarize who has the right to know the details related to the transfer of assets following death. While this question is of central focus following the death of a loved one, it is also of relevance for advising our living clients. As summarized below, the information disclosed following death will depend upon the legal ownership structure of the asset.