Spending time with family and celebrating the holidays generally go hand-in-hand. While the holidays offer moments for special family memories, they might not seem like the optimal time to have a serious conversation about your estate plan. We would suggest, however, that the most wonderful time of the year might also be the perfect opportunity to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding your wishes.
- Everyone together – One of the best reasons to have estate planning discussions over the holidays is that it might be the only time your entire family is together during the year. Discussing your wishes with everyone around the table leaves little room for miscommunication.
- More stress – A common theme during the days leading up to Christmas celebrations is busyness. And while it can be overwhelming, it might be just the reminder you need to consider planning for the future.
- Less stress – While the days leading up to holidays can be hectic and harried, generally once the big day hits, stress levels retreat as we take time to focus on the blessings in our lives. Typically, during holiday gatherings, people put aside the things that capture their attention throughout the year and are more at ease and open to these types of discussions.
- Reflect on the past – Christmas is an excellent time to consider the legacy you want to leave for your family. It is also a great time to tell younger generation stories of your past. Use conversations about favorite memories as a springboard to discuss the legacy you want to leave for them after you are gone.
- Plan for the future – In addition to being a great time to reflect on past accomplishments, with a new year right around the corner, the holidays are an ideal time to dream about the future. Let your family members know your hopes and dreams in the short-term as well as further down the road. What is on your bucket list? What do you hope to accomplish with the days you have left? This will make it easier to determine your wishes when those important decisions must be made on your behalf, including long-term care wishes, powers of attorney and issues that might come up if you are unable to make your own decisions. Letting your family know your wishes and why they are important to you will help them make difficult decisions when the time comes.
Once you have had your preliminary family discussions, it is important to work with a qualified estate planning attorney to clearly define your wishes in the proper documentation.