How to talk about estate planning with your family over the holidays

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2021 | Estate Planning

Estate planning is often a sensitive subject that many families ignore for fear of starting an argument. In actuality, crafting a comprehensive estate plan is a crucial factor in achieving peace of mind for the future. While people might think the holidays are a time to avoid anything that could potentially turn into a heated dispute, others would argue that the holidays are the perfect time to have discussions that could impact the entire family.

For most families, the holiday season is a time to gather, share stories of the past year and celebrate the coming of the upcoming year. While there are often parties, joy and mirth making, there are other times devoted to heartfelt, emotional discussions. Using these times to have serious conversations about protecting the family in the future is a wise idea. Here are some tips to remember:

  • Plant the seeds early: It is important to have a certain degree of lead-in to a discussion about wills, trusts and your goals for end-of-life decision-making. Often, parents will share with their children the importance of saving and planning for the future. This same type of discussion could be had with siblings, aunts, uncles and the entire extended family. These past discussions naturally lend themselves to a talk about estate planning.
  • Treat the subject with respect: Often, a family argument over the holidays stems from a sudden change in subject. The idiom “dropping a bombshell” is often used. Initiating a conversation about estate planning should be accomplished in a more sensitive, respectful manner. It is important to frame the conversation in a way that highlights estate planning as necessary to protect the future of the family.
  • Focus the discussion: Distractions come fast and furious at family gatherings over the holidays. It is crucial that you keep the focus squarely on the item at hand. Estate planning conversations are notorious for veering off into other topics. Successfully navigating this important financial conversation will take some effort but keeping everyone focused is critical. Some individuals find it helpful to have notes or a topic list prepared to assist them in staying on track.

Family discussions over the holidays might often feel like a fragmented, disjointed mess. Conversely, the holiday season is generally recognized as a time when all family members get to sit down together and share intimate details of their lives and plans for the future. This time of the year naturally lends itself to a well-crafted discussion about the importance of estate planning.