It’s officially my favorite time of the year! There is nothing better than enjoying my days off and spending time with friends and family. Make the best use of this time together and discuss some important issues with your family to make sure they are prepared if something happens to you. Be sure to ask them these five questions to get the conversation going:
1.) Do you have an estate plan? For most people, the answer is no, and that is pretty scary. Ask the people that you love most if they have a plan in place (will, trust, power of attorney, etc). If not, push them to get this done before the end of the year. Estate planning is the ultimate act of love. It does take some time and effort to get it done, and it might not be the most exciting thing to do, but your family will thank you for being responsible and proactive when that time comes.
2.) How do I locate your estate planning documents? I get calls from families weekly that are in a panic because they cannot locate the estate planning documents of their loved ones. It’s the “morbid scavenger hunt” that is really easy to prevent if you communicate with your loved ones while you can. Have the conversation now with your family on how they can locate these important documents and make sure they have your estate planning attorney’s contact information just in case they need copies of the documents and some guidance.
3.) What will happen to your kids? Estate planning is more than planning for what happens to your stuff is something happens to you. It’s also about making sure your children are raised, in the way you want, if you cannot be here to do it yourself. Most parents leave more instructions with their babysitter than they do in their estate plan! Consider making long-term “babysitter” instructions for your legal guardians and give them some guidance on how you would want your children raised.
4.) How do you feel about life support? Believe it or not, families don’t fight just about money when someone passes away. There may also be discourse about healthcare choices if you are incapacitated and haven’t left clear instructions. In addition to having healthcare directives, make sure you have a conversation with the people that will be acting as your healthcare agents about your choices, so that they are not surprised by your choices when they are called upon to act.
5.) What will happen to our family’s legacy? The holidays are a great time to relive some of your family’s best memories and to create new ones. But how is your family preserving these intangible assets (stories, experiences, insights, etc) and passing them down to the next generation? Consider using this time together to conduct legacy interviews so that your family has more than money to pass on to the next generation.