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Holiday Chats with your Family

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Every year at this time, I remind my clients that holiday gatherings are a perfect time to discuss their estate plan with the key family members named in that estate plan. You will likely be together with those family members at some point over the holiday season, so grab a glass of eggnog and visit with those folks.

Some of the issues to discuss are your medical treatment should you become incapacitated. Discuss what you want if you have an incurable medical condition that will make it impossible for you to make decisions for yourself, such as dementia.

Discuss what you want done with your body after you pass away. Do you want a traditional funeral or would you rather have a party or reception in your honor? Do you have some off-the-wall wishes such as having your family drink a toast to you with a certain wine or spirit?

If you have minor children, discuss with the guardian you’ve designated how you want your children raised. Discuss with the guardian any special needs or issues you think they may encounter with your children. Discuss with the person who will act as the trustee for the trust that you’ll have set up for your children how you want that money spent.

If you have pets, discuss with the person you’ve designated to become the pet’s new owner anything they should know about that pet.

Discuss with the person you’ve designated as the executor of your estate where you have your assets and give that person some advice on how best to deal with those assets (rental homes, for example, take a lot of hands-on management, as do classic cars). Make sure the key people in your estate plan know where you keep the original documents that comprise your estate plan. Let them know that you’re going to have a sheet of paper in the back of the estate planning folder that has key information such as passwords for email and websites. Don’t assume that the key people named in your estate plan know everything about you and your life – even a spouse doesn’t know as much as you’d think about specifics.

This doesn’t have to be a sad or somber discussion – most people can inject a little humor into these topics to keep the discussion positive. Also, don’t assume that because you are healthy and relatively young that it’s a waste of time to talk about these subjects. You don’t know what the coming year holds in store for you, so go into the new year prepared.

So, at some point this holiday season, sit down for 15 or 20 minutes with these key people and just talk about all of these issues.

For more information contact us at 913-422-0909. Or visit our website at or WM Law is here to help!