For us, estate planning and Thanksgiving dinner go together like mashed potatoes and gravy. Why? Because while legal issues don’t exactly sound like a relaxing holiday conversation, the family is all together, and it can be a great time to start making plans or to make your plans known. Here are some holiday conversation starters if you’re feeling a little hesitant to bring up these important family topics:
“This turkey is stuffed like a well-funded trust…”
If you’ve done your estate planning, go ahead and brag about it! Your family should know that you’ve taken these steps to ensure that you have taken steps to care for them in the future. If you’re concerned about a child who has a family of their own and no estate plan, you can teach them the importance of establishing a plan for their little ones.
It’s also a good reminder that estate plans need proper updating; if you have acquired assets since the creation of a trust, they need to be accurately put into the trust to get the maximum benefit.
“What beautiful decor, Mom. Are your healthcare documents as organized as your table setting?”
The conversation goes both ways, and children should also feel comfortable to approach their parents. Parents want to be transparent with their children and the roles they have imagined for them. Studies show that parents believe their children will care for them as they age, and about 60% of children don’t know their parents’ expectations in regards to long-term care and fiduciary roles.
You also want to give your family an opportunity to express their feelings about these jobs. You certainly don’t want to put someone to feel they have to make a difficult medical decision for you if they are unhappy or uncomfortable in this position. If you explain, thoughtfully, why you have chosen a particular loved one for a certain role, in your own words, there will be less tension in an emergency.
“Honey, will you look on the top shelf of the freezer for the pumpkin pie? It’s right on top of my estate planning documents.”
It’s important to remember that your documents only work as well as the system to get to them when they are needed. We often recommend the freezer as a safe place for your important health care documents, but wherever you keep them, make their whereabouts known to the people you love, so they are easily accessible when needed.
If you’re still feeling shy about bringing up estate planning, just forward to someone you care about. Estate planning, as we see it at Swan Law, is an act of caring for your loved ones.
Email Jamie at email@example.com to make or update your estate plan.