Should I Discuss Estate Planning During the Holidays?

With the winter holidays fast approaching, the thought of family festivities may be on your mind. In fact, it may be one of the only times that the entire family comes together. Some look at this as the ideal time to use the gatherings to deal with family business, including discussing estate planning. But you may question whether it’s the best or most appropriate time. Should you really discuss estate planning during the holidays?

Well, many legal experts agree that people should take advantage of the convenience of holiday get-togethers and talk about what they need to do about their estate. So, the answer to the question is a resounding “yes.” Read on to learn about how to discuss estate planning during the holidays.   

How to Start a Conversation About Estate Planning

Discussing after-life plans can be difficult at any time but can be especially daunting during the holidays because everyone is in a celebratory mood. However, there are guidelines and tips to follow to help get the ball rolling. Consider the following:

Thoroughly Prepare:

  • Don’t go into this without conducting your research and understanding your needs, wants, and your assets. 
  • Take inventory as to where you are in the estate planning process. Do you need to begin your estate plan? Do you have a plan already in place? Do you need to update your plan? 
  • Take stock of any life changes that could prompt changes in your estate plan. 

Set the Agenda:

  • Let the family know what you have in mind. Be clear, and don’t blindside them or make it a surprise; lay out the subject of the discussion. This way, everyone can prepare as needed. 
  • Arrange for all adults who need to be present to be able to meet. If they can’t be there in person, use means like FaceTime or Zoom. Plan for children to be busy with other activities at this time. 
  • Arrange to do something fun immediately after to lighten the mood.

Engage in the Meeting:

  • Open up the conversation by discussing pop culture events, such as celebrity deaths. “We don’t want to be like the famous athlete/ actor/singer/rapper/influencer who died without a will.”
  • Consider the desires of family members. Are their specific heirlooms that people want? How will this be balanced out? 
  • Communicate effectively and with sympathetically. Try to be sensitive, remain calm and let everyone have a chance to express themselves. Be prepared for emotional responses.  

Relevant Issues

  • Property: Typically, the most significant part of estate plans involves what happens to someone’s property when they pass away. Thus, it’s important to concentrate on this.  
  • Financials: What happens to your financial accounts also needs to be addressed. Individuals can designate accounts/benefits (pensions, IRAs, stocks/bonds) through beneficiary designations.  
  • Power of attorney: The two areas of concern are medical decisions and financial decisions. 
  • Long-term care: What happens if you suffer an illness or injury and need a long-term care facility? You can use estate planning to anticipate this and prepare financially. 

Ask for Help from an Estate Planning Attorney 

Estate planning matters aren’t particularly easy to deal with, but the holiday season provides a welcome time to engage in necessary conversations. You can plan ahead and speak with an experienced New York attorney to express your intentions. MOWK Law attorneys are well-reversed when it comes to estate planning and are available to hear you. Contact us to learn more.