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Getting the whole family to come together in one room is not an easy feat. That is why many people choose to discuss important issues, such as their estate planning goals with their families during the holiday season.
We always tell our clients: If you’re appointing a health care proxy, and you want to have a conversation with that health care proxy about what your medical wishes are, the holidays present an excellent time to have that conversation in person, as opposed to over the phone. In the case of an elderly parent’s estate plan, it’s a good idea for him or her to have a conversation with their loved ones who are a part of their plan, in order to let them know what his or her expectations and desires are.
It is not a particularly easy conversation, especially if you’re considering your own medical setbacks or mortality, but it’s an important one to have. It doesn’t have to be the topic of conversation during dinner, but rather, consider having a side conversation with them about what your wishes are and what your plan is—for example, if you have a large family with multiple children, you may want to talk about what your estate plan looks like. There may be documents that need to be executed, like nominations for a fiduciary role, trustee, agent, or power of attorney.
The holidays are also a good time for reflecting on the giving aspect of your estate plan, like having a clear conversation about who gets what, in terms of your personal possessions. You may want to make a list and go through it with your executor, main trustee, or successor trustee.
Of course, you don’t have to include an estate planning component to your holiday celebrations. In fact, there’s no requirement for you to have any conversation with your family about your estate plan at all, but if you feel like it is going to be helpful, and you want to have that conversation, it might be nice to do so when everybody’s together—perhaps before or after dinner, so if there are any contentious areas that may come up, they won’t ruin the most important part of the day.