Discussing Estate Planning With The Family Over The Holidays

There are many different discussions that individuals may find helpful to have when it comes to estate planning.

For instance, individuals could have a discussion with an estate planning attorney that can explain the various different types of estate planning devices (such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, etc.). These attorneys can help individuals determine what sort of estate plan will best carry out their wishes regarding what is to happen if major illness strikes them, or how their assets will be distributed when they pass away.

Another estate-planning-related discussion an individual may find helpful to have is a discussion with their family. Having honest conversations with one's family about one's estate planning goals and wishes can be very important. It can help get one's family on the same page as to what is going to happen in the event of serious illness or death, help family members understand the reasoning behind certain estate planning decisions (and thus perhaps prevent hurt feelings), head off potential squabbles between family members over what will happen with particular objects (such as family heirlooms) when one passes away, and perhaps even help the eventual carrying out of one's estate plan go more smoothly.

Now it may not seem like it at first glance, but the holidays can actually provide a good opportunity to have estate-planning-related discussions with the family. For many families, the holiday season is an opportunity for the whole family to gather in one place. Having everyone together in one place is something that may not happen at any other point in the year, so this can be a good time to talk about issues that can have impacts for the whole family, such as estate planning issues.

Of course, estate planning issues can be a very delicate topic, so making sure to handle family discussions on this topic during the holidays appropriately can be quite important. Here are some tips regarding having such conversations:

  • Be delicate about beginning such conversations. Easing into the topic rather than diving straight into it without providing any context can sometimes prove helpful.
  • Find the right location for the discussion. For some families, the dining room table might not be a conducive location for productive dialogue on estate planning matters.
  • Don't just make the discussion about the nuts and bolts of the matter, try to foster a dialogue that covers the wider issues.
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