Thanksgiving: Seize the Moment
For some of us, Thanksgiving might be one of the few (or only) times a year when we can get the whole family together – it can simply be a logistical challenge when everyone is spread out over different cities, states and even continents. So, hopefully you can hear me out on this one…I am an estate planning attorney, so try not to hold it against me.
Though I just acknowledged that these family get-togethers can be rare – and therefore quite precious – I’m going to suggest you do something that you might think qualifies as a downer. Sorry about that. But I do think you should consider a family meeting. If you’d like, think of it as an information exchange. Why would you want to do this? By taking a proactive approach now, you can avoid unwanted surprises later for your family. It’s primarily a gift to them, but it will also serve to ensure your wishes are understood and honored.
Here are some quick tips to get you started:
Schedule the meeting, have an agenda, maintain control of the meeting, and do your best to stick to an allotted amount of time.
WHAT TO DO WHEN…
Tell family members what they will need to do if you become incapacitated or die.
REVIEW THE PLAN
Explain the basics of what you’ve planned and the reasons behind your decisions.
WHEN LESS IS MORE
Make it effective, but still keep it fairly general; it’s not necessary to cover specific financial information.
Set expectations appropriately; beneficiaries may have some incorrect ideas that need to be addressed – especially before they are relied upon. You may also choose to explain why a trust(s) has been established if that is part of your estate plan. i.e. to protect a beneficiary’s inheritance from creditors, divorce, immaturity, etc.