Aside from being able to leave behind financial resources to your loved ones, you probably also want to leave behind a positive legacy. Depending on your unique situation, if your estate plan is not devised optimally your family could experience some unpleasant surprises later on, and this is something to be avoided.
The truth is that there are individuals who make some unconventional choices. It is not entirely unheard of for someone to maintain a long-term, relatively serious relationship outside of his or her marriage.
In these cases, verbal or sometimes even written commitments can be made. It would be quite an unpleasant surprise for a family to find out the details of this relationship through an estate challenge.
There are individuals who have actually had children unbeknownst to their family. This too would be quite a shock to everyone, and it could lead to an estate challenge.
Some people who are in a clandestine relationship may have given significant gifts that no one in the family is aware of. This can lead to estate tax exposure. If the estate planning attorney who drew up the documents was not aware of these gifts, he or she would have no way of taking action to gain tax efficiency.
The way to spare your family from any difficulties after you pass away is to be totally honest and forthcoming when you are discussing the future with your attorney. Your lawyer will gain an understanding of the details, become apprised of your wishes, and prepare an estate plan that is appropriate for you given the circumstances.