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Should You Give Your Heirs Copies of Your Will?

One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to estate planning, is simply beginning. If you have done that, congratulations—many people avoid that first step. Once you have a will at the very least, they are other little glitches that may occur and we want you to be aware so that your diligence in planning for the future does not go awry.  (For example, we discussed what might happen if you do not sign your will.)

A columnist for answered a question that people out there may have: Can I sign multiple copies of the will? In brief, Christopher Yugo wrote that while you can do this, you may not want to and explained why. Yugo noted that another legal expert may disagree and you will of course need to consult your own legal counsel on such a matter.

To respond to a reader’s question about giving a signed copy of a will to each of the questioner’s children, Yugo wrote: “Since the will is such an important document that you can amend or revoke, I’m not sure that it is a good idea having a couple of them floating around, even if the persons that have them are family members or loved ones.”

He went on to add that since wills contain personal information, you might not want to give an actual copy to others. You can certainly outline the terms of your will but you may not want to give out copies.

And whether you’ve seen a scripted drama with multiple wills or heard of a real-life family crisis involving multiple wills (such as the debate over Aretha Franklin’s estate), you can imagine that different wills could cause some turmoil. If you need to change your will for any reason, you might feel obligated to inform all the people who have copies of the old will and depending on the changes, that might cause some distress.

Remember that professionals like estate planning attorneys and Fee-Only financial planners will stick to the ethical codes of their profession and advise you as best they can about what is within the law and what is not. They may also, as an aside, let you know when something is legal but perhaps not advisable.