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3 Tips for Talking About Estate Planning During the Holidays

Posted by Jim Foster | Nov 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

Elderly woman toasting with her family over holiday meal.

The holidays are right around the corner, and even taking COVID-19 into account, the joyous season of gathering with family and loved ones is coming into full swing.  Though you may be adjusting the way you gather, it is the time of year to slow down, get caught up with loved ones, enjoy the family, and experience quality time together.  It might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it is a great idea to take this opportunity to review your estate plan and talk about the topic with your loved ones.

Do Not Be Indifferent

It's true, the entire topic of estate planning can be a touchy subject, but covering your eyes about the issue is not good for you or your family.  According to a 2020 survey, as many as seven in 10 Americans have not prepared estate planning documents, such as a will or a trust.  This is particularly alarming when an estimated $30 trillion in wealth is set to transfer between baby boomers and their heirs in the next few years.  Accordingly, it is vital that families discuss estate planning well in advance of an emergency or life tragedy - while the eldest members of the family are still physically and mentally healthy.  Leaving the topic to chance can result in disastrous or costly outcomes.

Time it Right

It's no surprise that estate planning does not usually come up in everyday conversation.  And randomly informing your loved ones about who will get your things when you die, or make decisions for you if you become incapacitated, will likely damper the holiday spirit.

There are ways, however, to discuss estate planning during this season with grace and tact.  Plan ahead, and set a time when you and your loved ones can be together and talk within a comfortable, calm, and private environment.  Make sure that everyone is relaxed, and keep distractions at a minimum so the conversation stays on track.

In an ideal situation, the parents - or the elders - will bring up the subject.  Sometimes, however, parents refuse to discuss estate planning.  In such cases, the adult children have to broach the subject.  Asking where important papers and records are kept is a great start.

Boundaries Are Important

Once you find the time, place, and opportunity for the conversation about estate planning to happen, make sure to set down some ground rules.  Keep the discussion as transparent as possible, perhaps by having each family member address their thoughts, questions, or wishes and discuss together.  Possible items on the list to discuss may include:

  • Notifying them that you have a will or living trust that spells out how assets will be divided when you die or become incapacitated;
  • Letting them know who will act as the executor of your will or trustee of your trust;
  • Discussing who will serve as your agent under your financial power of attorney and patient advocate under your healthcare power of attorney;
  • Explaining to your family how to handle any medical or long-term care situations, if necessary; and
  • Giving your family members the chance to ask questions, and to share their feelings and concerns.
Bottom Line

Estate planning discussions can be straightforward and simple, but the conversation can quickly become complicated when personalities clash or emotions get in the way.  The main goal is to let your family and loved ones know you have a plan in hopes to pave the way for a smooth transition in a difficult time, without needing to go into detail about the plan's contents.  We can help parents and children come together and create an appropriate plan that will meet your family's short - and long - term estate planning needs.  Contact us today.


Estate Planning Overview

Estate Planning Basics & Benefits

Wills Versus Trusts: How Do I Know What I Need?

The Probate Process

Trust-based Estate Planning

Posted by Jim Foster

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Jim Foster

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