Thanksgiving Day is but a month away. Perhaps it is time to have your estate planning say?
Seriously, Thanksgiving and other major family gatherings are ripe opportunities for intra-family communication on a variety of levels and subjects. After all, many of your loved ones are likely under one roof and seated around one table (excluding the card table for the younger kiddos, that is).
One subject you ought to consider broaching, while everyone is together, is your own estate plan and how it will play out for your loved ones.
CBC News in Toronto recently cited a survey of our Canuck brothers and sisters in the Great White North regarding whether their estate plans were ship-shape. Not surprisingly, some 40% of Canadians aged 65 and older reported that they were unprepared when it comes to their estate plans.
It seems that our good friends to the north are, unfortunately, much like those of us here in the States.
The CBC News article, titled "Estate planning: Talking with family about dividing the pie," states that families are not perfect and many of us have families that are, well, dysfuntional.
What about your family? Is it always fun and laughter or are there a few crazy pet coons in the family tree?
It is easy for emotions to run high when it comes to the subject of estate planning. Siblings can feel slighted and the trust-level between siblings can erode, if it existed at all. This, in turn, can lead to family feuds over the inheritance (or lack thereof).
This is why it is so important to entertain these admittedly awkward conversations early and often. After all, who do you want deciding what is best for your family: you, or a stranger referred to as "judge"?
Unexpected events can and do happen (and will happen). It is smart to start your early planning now to alleviate headaches and heartaches in the future.
Discussions about your estate may be a bit uncomfortable, but it is important and necessary. If you are having a hard time with this, the original article suggests that you use the example of a celebrity death or a messy estate story in the headlines as a springboard into this personal topic.
Here are some practical pointers from the original article:
- Have a family meeting. This can be a great way to get everyone together, ask questions, and make your wishes known.
- Update your estate plan. Your life and assets can change in just a few years—as can your wishes.
- Do not forget about personal items. While the ceramic frog collection may not be that important to you, it can be for your loved ones.
Wherever you are in North America (as well as in Alaska or Hawaii), do not put this off. Contact an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney. He or she can even help you prepare for the Thanksgiving estate planning conversation with your loved ones.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: CBC News (Oct 12, 2014) "Estate planning: Talking with family about dividing the pie"