4 Tips for Talking About Estate Planning With Your Family Over the Holidays

This year, it is our sincere hope that you will be able to visit with loved ones and enjoy a holiday season with your family. However, given the ongoing pandemic, preparing for unforeseen circumstances is still on everyone’s mind, and with everyone together, the holidays are often a good time to bring up estate planning.

That said, asking your dad about his end-of-life wishes while he’s watching football isn’t the best way to broach the subject. In order to make the talk as productive as possible, consider the following four tips.

1 | SET ASIDE A TIME AND PLACE TO TALK

Discussing planning while carving the turkey or opening gifts most likely won’t be very productive. Your best bet is to schedule a time, when you can all gather to talk without distractions or interruptions.

Be up front with your family about the meeting’s purpose, so no one is taken by surprise and people come prepared for the talk. Choose a setting that’s comfortable, quiet, and private. The more relaxed everyone is, the more likely they’ll be comfortable opening up.

2 | CREATE AN AGENDA, AND SET A START AND STOP TIME

Create a list of the most important points you want to cover, and do your best to stick to them. You should encourage open conversation, but having a list of items you want to cover can help ensure you don’t forget anything.

Also, set a start and stop time for the conversation. This will help keep the discussion on track and prevent people from veering too far off topic. If anything important comes up that’s not on the list, you can always continue the discussion later. Remember, the goal is to simply get the conversation started, not work out all of the details or dollar amounts.

3 | EXPLAIN WHY PLANNING IS IMPORTANT

Assure everyone that the conversation isn’t about prying into anyone’s finances, health, or relationships—it’s about providing for the family’s future security and well-being no matter what happens. It’s about ensuring everyone’s wishes are clearly understood and honored, not about finding out how much money someone stands to inherit.

Talking about these issues is also a good way to avoid future conflict and expense. When family members don’t clearly understand the reasoning behind one another’s planning choices, it’s likely to breed conflict, resentment, and even costly legal battles.

4 | DISCUSS YOUR PLANNING EXPERIENCE

If you’ve already created your plan, start the talk by explaining the planning documents you have in place and why you chose them. If you’ve worked with us, describe how the process unfolded and how we supported you to create a plan designed for your unique wishes and needs.

Mention any questions or concerns you initially had about planning and how we worked with you to address them. If you have loved ones who’ve yet to do any planning and have doubts about its usefulness, discuss their concerns in a sympathetic and supportive manner, sharing how you dealt with similar issues whenever possible.

If you have not yet worked with us on your estate plan, or if you have a family member who needs guidance about their own planning, please call us to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session™.

FOR THE LOVE OF YOUR FAMILY

We can guide and support you in having these intimate discussions with your loved ones. When done right, planning can put your life and relationships into a much clearer focus and offer peace of mind knowing that the people you love most will be protected and provided for no matter what. 

Contact us today to get started or to help a family member get started.

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The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, PC

At The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, we answer your questions at your convenience; we stay in frequent communication; and we meet to discuss changes in life circumstances and in the law to ensure that your assets are protected.

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