As we head into the peak of the holiday season, you are likely spending more time than usual surrounded by your family and friends. It is one of the rare times of the year when loved ones from across the country gather together to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the passing of another year.
The holidays offer an opportunity to visit with loved ones you rarely see and get caught up on what has been happening in everyone’s life. The holidays can also be a good time to discuss estate planning. In fact, with everyone you love—from the youngest to the oldest—gathered together under one roof, the holidays provide the ideal opportunity to have that discussion.
Of course, you want to be careful not to ruin the mood or bring up the discussion at the wrong time. You will know when the moment is just right. In order to make the discussion as productive as possible, you should consider the following tips.
1. Set aside a time and place to talk Trying to discuss estate planning in an impromptu fashion over the dinner table or while opening Christmas gifts is not likely to go over well. Your best bet is to schedule a time separate from the festivities when you can all gather together and talk without distractions or interruptions.
It is also a good idea to be upfront with your family about the meeting’s purpose, so no one is taken by surprise, and they are more prepared for the talk. Choose a setting that is comfortable, quiet, and private. The more relaxed people are, the more likely they are to be comfortable opening up about sensitive topics.
2. Create an agenda, and set a start and stop time
To ensure you can cover every topic you want to address, 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. Having a basic agenda of the items you want to talk about can help ensure you remember the most important items.
Setting a start and stop time for the conversation will help you keep the discussion on track and avoid having the conversation veer too far away from the main topics you want to discuss. If anything significant comes up that you were not prepared to discuss, you can always continue the discussion later. Keep in mind that the goal is to simply get the planning conversation started. The specific details or dollar amounts can come out later.
3. Explain why planning is important Assure everyone that the conversation is about providing for the family’s future security and well-being no matter what happens. It is about ensuring that everyone’s wishes are clearly understood and honored, not about finding out how much money someone stands to inherit.
While some relatives might be reluctant to open up, being surrounded by loved ones who will ultimately benefit from planning can make people more willing to discuss these sensitive subjects. Talking about these issues is also a crucial way to avoid unnecessary conflict and expense down the road. When family members clearly understand the rationale behind one another’s planning choices, it can avoid conflict, resentment, and even costly legal battles.
4. Discuss your experience with planning If you have already set up your plan, one way to get the discussion going is to explain the planning vehicles you have in place and why you chose them. If you have worked with us you can describe how the process unfolded and how we supported you to create a plan designed for your unique needs.
Mention any specific questions or concerns you initially had about planning and how we worked with you to address them. If you have loved ones who have yet to do any planning and have doubts about its usefulness, discuss any concerns they have in a sympathetic and supportive manner, sharing how you dealt with similar issues whenever possible.
For the love of your family Though death and incapacity can be awkward subjects to discuss, talking about how to properly plan for such events can actually bring your family closer together this holiday season. In fact, our clients consistently share that after going through our estate planning process they feel more connected to the people they love the most. They also feel a sense of clarity about the lives they want to live during the short time we have here on earth.
We can help 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.
This article is a service of Reflections Life Planning LLC. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That is why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you have ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.