“We get it: there’s no easy way to start talking about estate planning. And who wants to spoil the holidays with morbid talk about what’s going to happen after a family member dies?” Christopher Coble asks. “Then, again, when else are you going to do it? The holidays are one of the few times you can get most of the family together, and maybe the holiday spirit will make everyone a little more patient, understanding, and generous,” Coble adds.
At Geyer Law, we’ve found over the years, while holiday family gatherings may not be where estate planning issues are actually brought up, those very gatherings serve as triggers, bringing clients in seeking answers to various family-related “what-to-do-about” questions.
Mary Foston-English, MFT, assistant director of Stanford’s Faculty and Staff Help Center, explains that the complications in family relationships, always present, are exacerbated by the stress of the holidays. Divorce and custody disputes, increased awareness of physical and mental illnesses in family members, all seem to come to the forefront at family gatherings.
While holding a family meeting to discuss estate planning may not be what you want to do at the actual holiday gathering, it is wise to plan such a meeting following the holiday, while everyone is still “thinking family”. With everyone together, it’s easier to plan the logistics of the meeting and set a convenient time, so that you can invite your financial advisor, estate planning attorney, and CPA to that meeting if possible.
The purpose? Explaining your vision to your heirs while you’re still around to explain things, the HuckBoumablog points out. “By attaching your values to your estate planning and involving your family in the process, your estate plan now becomes a family plan, minimizing the risk of conflict.”
“Estate planning can go well beyond simply who/what will get your assets. Other considerations include values, taxes, medical care, charitable gifts, educational trusts, pets and more,” Gary Altman, an attorney in Virginia so importantly adds.
Amen to that. Our objective at Geyer Law is to take the mystery out of the estate planning process so that individuals and families have peace of mind rather than confusion when facing the disability or death of a loved one.
While nobody wants to think about death or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take. Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, it spares your loved ones of the expense, delay and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled.
Turn those “leftover” warm feelings from the holiday family gathering into an estate planning action plan!