Pay Dirt is Slate’s money advice column. Have a question? Send it to Athena and Elizabeth here. (It’s anonymous!)
Dear Pay Dirt,
While I’m middle aged and healthy, I’m in the process of updating my will. I have two younger children in addition to a niece and a goddaughter, all four of whom will be named as beneficiaries.
I have two significant life insurance policies provided by my current employer that I will take over payments for when I retire. The plan is for the money to either be placed in a trust until each of the kids turn 25 or if they’re of age when I do pass, to have a direct check cut. I need to have the will formalized by our family attorney but I wanted to have a solid plan going in. What I’m wondering is do I give the parents (my brother and my best friend) a heads up that I’m changing my will to include their child? Or should it just come as a pleasant surprise?
—Willing It All Away
Dear Willing It All Way,
Let it be a pleasant surprise. A lot can happen between now and when you pass, and you might want to make changes to your estate plan. Things could sour between you and your sibling or friend, you may end up with more children in your life that you’d like to split your estate among, or you could even decide to use the money on yourself, depending on your policy’s terms and conditions. Just focus on reviewing all the details with your estate attorney to ensure your plan is set up properly. You might decide to notify them at a later date, but for now, you can keep your plans low-key.
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