Visiting with Family About Estate Planning During the Holidays

Family and friends sitting at a dining table, pre-COVID!

It’s 2020 and literally, nothing is normal this year—including how we will spend time with our loved ones over the holidays. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just enjoy the spirit of this time of year, it tends to be the season when loved ones gather together. This year those gatherings will likely happen over Zoom calls, but family will still be together to enjoy each other’s company and share about their lives.  The holiday season is often stressful enough, especially during a global pandemic, so why would you ever include a discussion with family about estate planning?

Estate planning is critically important at any time of year. In many cases, families have not seen each other often during 2020, which removes natural opportunities to visit with loved ones about their estate planning wishes and needs. Consider visiting with your loved ones this holiday season over your Zoom call to solidify and truly understand what they would want to happen after they pass away. While it may not be the fireside chat everyone wishes to have with a cup of cocoa, the importance of this conversation cannot be overstated. If you are curious about how best to visit with your loved one over the holidays regarding estate planning, we are here to help! Consider first visiting with our experienced attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC, who can help answer all of your questions, so your holiday estate planning conversations can go much more smoothly.

Starting the Holiday Estate Planning Conversation

Naturally, you may feel uncomfortable or hesitant to bring the subject of estate planning into your family holiday festivities. Who wants to talk about death while drinking eggnog? At Ibekwe Law, PLLC, we understand how hard it is to have these conversations and have provided some sample opening lines and questions for you to use as you visit with your loved ones regarding estate planning during the holidays. Consider the following conversation starters or questions to ask as you visit with your elderly loved ones over the holidays.

  • Make sure to let all family members know that you plan to bring up the estate planning conversation on the Zoom call or at the gathering.
  • Consider introducing the estate planning topic during the holiday gathering and make time to visit more about the subject later (if it appears that your loved ones do not want to have the conversation during the holiday season).
  • Try to introduce the estate planning conversation naturally; this will be more relevant with the COVID-19 pandemic; notably, studies show that the elderly are more at risk if they contract the virus. Visiting about national events can then easily evolve into a more personal conversation involving estate planning.
  • Ask questions such as, “Mom and dad, are you already working with an estate planning attorney regarding your wishes?” If they do not already have an estate plan, or their estate plan is outdated and would not address their current situation, it may prompt them to realize that they need to update their existing estate plan.
  • If relevant, you could also state that you have recently considered establishing an estate plan for yourself and wondered if your loved ones also have any estate planning advice. If they do not suggest anything, you could make it a joint effort and make it a mutually cooperative and beneficial exercise to go through the estate planning process together.

There are many other ways to introduce holiday estate planning to your family, and you will likely know best how to start the conversation to make it amicable and conversational.

What To Discuss If Your Family Takes The Bait To Discuss Estate Planning During the Holidays

If you are successful in bringing the estate planning topic up during the holidays, and your family members are agreeable to discussing it at the time, be prepared! Having the entire family participate in the conversation can make things more open and avoid any potential challenges in the future among family members. Consider asking the following questions:

  • What are your wishes for your finances, assets, and legacy following your death?
  • Do you have any wishes for your healthcare decisions, such as life support or organ donation?
  • Do you want someone to control your finances if you are unable to do so? Who would you like to have that authority under a Power of Attorney?
  • Who would you like to have authority regarding your healthcare decisions?
  • If you have a special needs child, would you like to consider creating a special needs trust?
  • Do you want us to help you make an appointment to help you better understand all of your options?

Ensure that you approach your entire conversation regarding estate planning during the holidays in the spirit of helpfulness. Many loved ones, especially the elderly, may feel that they do not want to be a burden about such issues. However, they might change their minds if they see the opportunity for some assistance and encouragement on their estate planning decisions.

Better Than Fruitcake

The best gift you can give your loved ones is your love, attention, and help with one of the most important decisions of their lives. There is a shift that occurs over time in families. Parents who have always been responsible for taking care of their children start to realize that they may need to turn to those children for help and assistance as they age. Your parents may simply be afraid or anxious to talk about estate planning. Remember that estate planning is not only for the ultra-wealthy. Everyone should have an estate plan to ensure their estate is distributed according to their wishes when they die.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

If you plan on broaching the subject of estate planning during the holidays, consider contacting an experienced estate planning attorney at Ibekwe Law, PLLC to help you become better equipped to know the questions to ask and the options available. We would welcome the opportunity to visit with you during this time to help you have this conversation with your parents or other family members. Contact us at 512-505-2753 or online at Ibekwe Law, PLLC, today.