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Discussing Estate Planning with Family This Holiday Season

The holidays can be an ideal time to broach the topic of estate planning, since it’s the time of year when families are together and the seriousness of the conversation can be tempered by the festivity of the season. Sometimes people create or update an estate plan to coincide with the beginning or ending of a calendar year, so the holidays are an ideal way to remember to complete this task. Perhaps your new year’s resolution is to create an estate plan.

The season is looking quite different for many people, with the pandemic causing travel restrictions and people deciding to spend the holidays alone to reduce the spread of the virus. Still, many will be making the effort to see family in smaller, socially distant groups or even via video chat. Conversations around estate planning may be especially top of mind right now, in the midst of a global pandemic.

Here are a few things to consider before you bring this topic up at the dinner table this holiday season.

Set aside a time and place to talk

Discussing planning while opening Christmas 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 upfront 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.

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.

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.

Explain the importance of estate planning

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 wellbeing 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.

Discuss your estate 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. Describe how the process unfolded and how you were able to create a plan designed for your unique wishes and needs.

If you have not yet worked with us on your estate plan, contact us right away for an estate planning consultation, so we can figure out the best plan to suit your and your family’s needs,

At North County Legal, our aim is to 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 learn more.