We humans like to think we like surprises – after all, who doesn’t love a surprise birthday party, or an unexpected gift delivered to the office? Where we most definitely don’t like surprises, though, are in estates.
You are far more likely to leave bad feelings about your estate plan if you leave an unequal amount to be divided among your children and don’t tell them about it ahead of time. You might have very valid reasons – perhaps you have become estranged from one child, or one is in more financial need and you have chosen to help them out. However, if you don’t tell them now, you risk irreparably harming their relationships with each other, and depleting your estate through a costly legal battle.
You have the right to leave your estate however you want (with some limits), but the best plan is to make sure everyone knows.