The holiday season is upon us and with it comes a golden opportunity to initiate a conversation about estate planning with your family. While it is never easy to address a subject that acknowledges mom’s and dad’s mortality, doing so is important as the alternative is far less pleasant. Families that overlook the need to talk about estate planning often find themselves mired in destructive and costly conflict at a time when they need unity and space to grieve. However uncomfortable, addressing the subject ahead of time helps avoid this and, as everyone needs to be involved, the holidays are an opportune time to do so.
Three Steps to Having the Estate Planning Talk
At the most basic level, an estate plan is about conserving resources and assisting a family’s outgoing generation care for its succeeding generations. Keep this in mind while following the three steps outlined below and as difficult as starting the conversation may be, you can rest easy knowing you and your loved ones will be better off as a result.
1. Be Prepared
Whether it is the children taking advantage of the chance to talk to aging parents about their estate planning goals or parents finally sitting down with the kids and outlining their final wishes, it is crucial that the initiating party arrive prepared. This means both thinking about how you can most productively broach the subject and about the topics you will need to address once rolling.
An experienced estate planning attorney is an invaluable resource for both starting and maintaining a productive conversation. They will have seen countless families successfully address the need for a secure estate plan and will be able to provide insight into strategies that have worked in the past. What’s more, an experienced attorney will help you navigate the nuance of estate planning and ensure you do not miss any easy-to-overlook details.
2. Be Inclusive
Generally, folks do not organize their estate out of self-interest. They do so to take care of their loved ones. Accordingly, it only makes sense that the estate planning process be inclusive and not leave anyone feeling left out. The entire family should be present during a conversation about what the parents plan to do with their assets and everyone should be given space to share their perspective.
While mom and dad may rightly feel that they need to explain their reasoning around contentious issues, it is just as important that they remain open to listening to perspectives they may have not considered. Likewise, children need to take advantage of the opportunity to honestly express their needs and concerns while they at once acknowledge the importance of listening to those of other family members.
While talking about estate planning is nobody’s idea of how best to spend the holidays, setting aside an evening to do so can result in deeper family bonds—a corollary benefit that surely is in line with the holiday spirit.
3. Don’t Delay
An estate plan not only ensures your assets end up where you intend but also serves to protect your finances and physical well-being while you are living. A durable power of attorney and healthcare directive are essential components of any robust plan. These documents allow you to designate a loved one to take financial and medical decisions on your behalf should you suffer incapacitation. If something happens to you before you have taken the initiative to execute these documents, irreparable conflict may erupt in the family as people differ on what decisions to take. Likewise, should you die with no estate plan in place, your assets will be distributed according to Texas intestate law which, naturally, makes no concessions for sentimental concerns.
To learn more about how best to initiate a conversation about estate planning with your family or to address any other question related to the matter, do not hesitate to contact the Hailey-Petty Law Firm either by calling (512) 910-8977 in Austin, (210) 570-2458 in San Antonio or by using the contact form on our website.