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How to discuss estate planning during the holidays

As Christmas draws near, families are planning to get together to celebrate the last holiday of the year. In these situations, there may be talk about estate planning, future inheritances, and what aging parents should do to protect their estates from undue taxes and potential waste (from beneficiaries). Every family is different, and some may be very uncomfortable with discussing how their estate plans may be created (or maintained). Other families may be very forthcoming in talking about end-of-life choices and who may be responsible for administering an estate.

Whatever your family dynamic, it could be helpful to avoid feelings of distrust. After all, you don’t have to disclose what your financial portfolio looks like or how much money is in your respective bank accounts. But it could be helpful to let your family members know about how you wish to be cared for in the event you cannot articulate your wishes. The same could be said about who should be in charge of your property until you are able to do so.

Communicating this may not be the best conversation topic at the dinner table, and some family members may get bent out of shape upon hearing about their roles.  Nevertheless, it may be better for children to hear about their responsibilities sooner rather than later. The surprise that can come after a traumatic experience may be too much for an unsuspecting family member.

If your children broach the topic, chances are they have seen some things that give them some genuine concern. Again, you don’t have to disclose everything, but having healthy discussions can be beneficial.

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