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As we enjoy the holidays with our family and friends, it is a wonderful idea to take stock of all that makes us thankful. We often have an opportunity to get together with family that we may not see on a day to day basis as well, and this could be a good opportunity to not only think about how your estate planning might affect their futures, but to also sit down with your family and friends and have those important, yet often delayed, discussions about your wishes in the event that something happens to you. Even more, it may be a good time to bring up this subject with your own aging relatives, to make sure that they know that you want to help them reach their goals and handle their affairs in the way they desire. Although these conversations are often a bit scary to initiate, they are unfortunately, necessary to have.
Some tips, for approaching this topic with your aging relatives:
- Let them know that you love them and plan for them to be around for quite a while.
- Reassure them that your goal is to understand what they want, and nothing more.
- Use an example of a peer who did not get the chance to have this talk, and then was left to guess what their loved one wanted.
- If they do have estate planning documents, ask where they are located. Also, ask whether they have any specific wishes regarding things that are not mentioned in their documents.
- If they are willing to discuss things in more depth, ask if there is a time where you can sit down and go over where other things are located, such as their bank accounts, keys for property, etc.
And for your own plan, it can also be hard to bring up these topics with your loved ones who may be your beneficiaries, or who might end up caring for your children in the event something happens to you. They may resist having this conversation because they think your death is unlikely to happen, and it’s a painful idea to think about. However it is the unfortunate truth that something could happen to you, and you want to make sure that you have conversations with people so they know what to do in the event of the worst.
- Make sure that the people who you plan to be your children’s guardians in the event of your death or disability are still up to the task (or have an initial conversation to ask them if they are willing and able to perform this task).
- If you have a separate trustee to manage your children’s finances, make sure that they are still willing and able to serve.
- Review your estate planning documents, and consider sharing their contents with your loved ones so that you can explain things and make sure everyone knows your wishes.
- Make sure that people know where your important documents are located.
If you or your loved ones have not had your estate plans formalized with an estate planning attorney, feel free to contact me to set up an appointment for a consultation. Completing your plans can give you the peace of mind so that you can simply relax and enjoy being with your family over the holidays, rather than worrying for their future.
© Elizabeth Cypers, Cypers Law, P.C. 2014