It’s the time of year for family gatherings… Grandparents arrive from Florida; young adults are home from college. Fires are lit, hot chocolate is sipped as multiple generations come together to make memories.
The holidays present a unique opportunity to discuss your plans for the future. Talking about estate planning may not may not be as exciting as opening presents, but realistically it can be one of the greatest gifts you offer. This may be one of the few times family members are together. It provides the perfect opportunity to share your thoughts, face to face, with your loved ones.
Discussing these matters in person can ensure all parties are comfortable with their proposed roles in your plans. Here are some ideas on how to handle that conversation…
Give Them a Heads Up
Drop them a note telling them you are writing your will and putting together an estate plan and mention the role you’d like them to play. For example: Dear Aunt Edna, I know you love my cats. I’d be so pleased if you would agree to be named as their Pet Guardian should anything happen to me. I’m looking forward to seeing you over the holiday when we can discuss this in more detail.
Follow up Face-to-face
When the time is right (avoid making an announcement at the dinner table) ask your adult, relevant family members to sit with you. Choose a private, comfortable location, if possible, away from the festivities. Refer back to the letters that you sent about the role you’ve nominated for each to play, (e.g., trustee, executor, guardian). Thank them for considering your request, explain their roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions.
Offer the Relevant Document
Depending on your comfort level, consider bringing copies of the relevant document(s) with you, or offer to provide a copy after everyone returns home. In such personal matters, a little context can go a long way. Those named as executors and trustees should know if they’ll be fulfilling their duties with a co-executor or co-trustee and who that individual or corporate entity will be so they may make a decision if it is someone they feel they can work with effectively.
The Opportunity to Say No
If your nominee prefers not to be named, let them know, sincerely, that they are under no obligation and you appreciate them considering the offer. It is far better to know now who is willing to serve than to have them decline, and the estate having to find an alternate after you’re gone.
Having these serious conversations during the holidays may not be the most joyous part of the gathering, but they are a significant act of love and compassion for all who make your life special.
At One Financial Services, our team of experienced estate planning professionals knows that these types of conversations can strengthen your plan and help to ensure it will be implemented according to your wishes.