Older woman hugging daughter during the holidays

Talking to your Family about Estate Planning During the Holidays

The holidays can be a wonderful time, with carols, cocoa, and chats with loved ones by the fireside. With everyone in attendance, the holidays can also be an opportune time to discuss any pressing family matters, such as living wills and trusts. Understandably, these subjects are best approached with caution, as keeping the peace is tantamount to creating a good memory for yourself and your loved ones. 

Discussing living wills and trusts can be an emotional minefield if you want to preserve the holiday atmosphere. To help you navigate the situation, here is a list of suggestions on how to talk to your family about estate planning during the holidays.

Understand Why Discussing Estate Planning Is Important

Understanding why the discussion needs to happen is the first step in the process. This will give you the assuredness and mental fortitude to begin the discussion. After all, the ultimate goal of estate planning is your family’s safety and security. Ask yourself, would it be easier to discuss these problems now or when everyone is grieving?

Initiating a dialogue with the rest of your family will make the entire process more transparent, so there are no surprises down the line. After all, why should assets be allocated to individuals who do not want to be responsible for them? This conversation could show you which parts of the estate should be left in the care of certain family members and which parts should be left to a professional.

Ensure Your Family Understands What the Grantor Wants

Whether you are the grantor or not, an open conversation ensures everyone has the opportunity to voice their concerns and make their wishes known. Everyone might have different ideas concerning how to honor the grantor’s legacy and how to use certain assets. Having a conversation now allows the grantor to make their wishes and demands explicit.

Timing Is Everything

The nature of the holidays makes conversations related to estate planning even more sensitive. For this reason, you will need to learn to read the moment and initiate discussions at the opportune time. Failure to do so could cause fights, undue agitation, and general turmoil. Wait for a moment when the individuals you wish to engage are receptive and unbothered by the situations around them.

With timing in mind, it is important that you recognize this discussion will likely catch some of your family members off guard. You can minimize this by choosing a calm, comfortable setting in which to have the discussion.

Minimize Emotional Involvement

It may sound callous, but estate planning matters are often largely of the mathematical and economic variety. As such, injecting emotion into the situation has a tendency to derail discussions. If you are the grantor, it is important that your family understands what you are trying to communicate. It is all right for them to get emotional as long as you are coming from a place of resilience and clarity.

Avoid Any Surprises

Considering all the effort that you are putting into this discussion, you certainly don’t want to revisit any of these emotional topics with critical members who weren’t present for the initial conversation. Scheduling the conversation at a convenient time for all parties can avoid this. 

Balancing the physical aspects of timing with the emotional ones is a bit of a high-wire act, but it will save you and your loved ones a lot of headaches in the future.

Have a Trusted Estate Planning Professional by Your Side

After the initial discussion, make sure all follow-up discussions occur in the presence of an estate planning professional. The estate planning professionals at OC Wills & Trust Attorneys have been serving the Orange County, CA, area for years and are happy to provide a complimentary consultation. 

Enjoy a more peaceful holiday season this year by putting your concerns in the hands of the trusted, credible estate planning attorneys at OC Wills & Trust Attorneys today. Contact us today.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.