Solo and Small Firm Committee Chair with Jennifer Gomez Hardy, Esquire and Brad Shuttleworth, Esquire.

I know you are thinking, why would I discuss my planning with my family over the holidays? The answer to the question is, it may be the best time to discuss estate planning. This is one time of year that multi-generations of families are together. The days when death and dying were a hush-hush topic are over. Male heirs receiving entire estates referenced as progenitor is a dead concept.
So, how do you approach this subject over the holidays or do you? To begin with, every family and family dynamic is unique but it is important that the conversation focuses on your family’s values.

What does your family value? Did your family work hard to gather wealth? Does your family want to keep the house in the family for generations? Do you want to give away certain pieces of jewelry to loved ones? Or give to a charity? Or give larger monetary gifts to grandchildren over the holidays to save money on inheritance taxes?

Frame these conversations to reflect family values and not focus on who gets what after someone passes away. This focus can cause tension and lead to delaying important conversations.
If you broach the subject and get stonewalled, the reality is that everyone has their limits. Some may feel more comfortable than others discussing their wishes, but others might be more private. For many reasons, the person may not want to discuss their death.

But it is important to prepare your Will, power of attorney and other documents because a lack of understating of how to preserve wealth along with poor asset management can cause, among other issues, wealth dissipation.
Cost may be a factor, but consider giving a loved one a gift certificate for a Will preparation or for a consult with an attorney. I know it sounds odd. In my office, we also prepare legacy letters and digital Wills. In addition to your Will that is formal in nature, we can create a personalized video of your wishes to leave for your loved ones.

Finally, think of all of this as your legacy and not as a death wish. We are all going to die someday and leaving turmoil and expense can be frustrating for all.

Think carefully about how you communicate your after death plans to your children and loved ones. Aim for a “happy medium.”