The holidays can be a prime time to discuss estate planning issues because everyone is gathered together, often from various parts of the country or world. While the holidays can be difficult, there is a collective intention of general good will, and the holidays are traditionally a time of handing down traditions.
So talking about your end of life wishes during Thanksgiving and Christmas may make natural sense for your family. It’s a great way to take advantage of the fact that everyone’s in once place, together, and provides a good framework for what otherwise might be an awkward conversation. And, if you have survived the death of a loved one, then you can probably appreciate that sharing your personal wishes with your family before your death can be an expression of gratitude for those who survive you.
Before hiring an estate planning attorney, it may be a good idea to talk with family members to get a feel for what some of the family issues might be. It’s also helpful to have relaxed discussions with family before more serious discussions come up while you are ill or closer to death. This way the family will be more emotionally prepared to help carry out your wishes regarding what is to happen if major illness strikes you.
Once you’ve been able to do that, then it’s time to make an appointment with an attorney and set up appropriate estate planning mechanisms. Having these conversations in advance of your first meeting with an estate planning attorney will set the groundwork for any other conversations you need to have with your loved ones. And, it will probably streamline the preparation of your documents and save you some attorneys’ fees.
That said, not all family dynamics are the same. Talking through this with your family may feel scary. And, in some cases, the holidays may not the best time to have these conversations. The team at DuBois Levias Law Group handles a variety of family law issues. We realize that estate planning, like prenups and even divorce, is often a very delicate topic. We are here to help. Sometimes, consulting with an estate planning attorney before talking with your family can be useful. You can use the estate planning attorney as a coach who can provide you with tips about how to start these conversations and what they might cover.