Do I have to tell my kids that I’m leaving money to a charity in my will or trust?

That is a personal, rather than a legal, decision. California law does not require you to notify your children that you are naming a charity in your will or trust. As an adult of sound mind who is not being unduly influenced by others, you have the right to leave your property to whomever you want to leave it to after your death. That includes a charity.

How to Decide What You Should Do

You may want to avoid an uncomfortable conversation or even a confrontation with your children. However, there may be advantages to having an open and honest conversation with your kids about the contents of your will or trust. Those advantages include:

  • Helping your children understand why you are doing what you are doing. They may support your decision and you may be proud of their reactions.
  • Keeping peace in the family after your death. If you take away the element of surprise then your loved ones may have an easier time individually and together after your death.
  • Removing the uncertainty, or stress, from your life. You will no longer have to keep the secret or think about how your children will react.

It is important to remember that your children may not agree with your decisions and that is okay. You still have the right to create the estate plan that is right for you, but it is important that you create the plan in accordance with California state law so that your will is not successfully challenged after your death. For more information about how to do that, please read our FREE report, The Ten Things You Must Know Before Creating (or Amending) Your Will or Trust.

 

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm