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Haul out the Holly and Discuss Estate Planning!

The holidays are all about family. It’s a time to get together, indulge in good food and drink and make lasting memories. It is also a great time to discuss some important matters like estate planning. While it may feel awkward to initiate this kind of conversation, speaking with your family about what will happen to your body at the end of your life or your assets once you die is important.

Here are 4 tips to make talking about wills, trusts, and your wishes a success over the holidays:

1. Bring Up Celebrity Examples as Cautionary Tale

If your family is reluctant to talk about these sensitive subjects, ease into the conversation. Begin a conversation by bringing up examples of celebrities that failed to plan their estate like Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who died in 2018, leaving an $80 million estate, but no will stating how she wanted her assets distributed. Or after legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix died in 1971, a 30-year court battle ensued over which of his siblings should receive what portion of his reputed $80 million estate. Such battles could have been avoided if they had a legal will or trust in place.

2. Respect Boundaries and Answer Questions

Once you find an opportunity to discuss estate planning, make sure to keep the discussion transparent. Every family member should be able to address their thoughts, questions, or wishes openly. Some good topics to address include:

· Who will act as the executor of your will or trustee of your trust.

· Who will serve as your agent under your financial power-of-attorney and patient advocate under your healthcare power-of-attorney.

· How to handle medical or long-term care situations if necessary.

3. Remember it’s an Ongoing Conversation

Although an estate plan feels final, a lot can change by the time it will be put into action. It is important for family members to understand that, as circumstances change, you may update your decisions along the way, so don’t feel pressured to lay out every single detail in the initial conversation.

It is a good idea to set the expectation for your family members that things will change. Explain how you will have to take things like new marriages, divorces, and newborns into consideration over time.

4. Create Your Estate Plan

Once you have figured out who will be handling the key roles related to your estate, get the documents drafted to officially put your final wishes into place. Having copies for everyone can help ensure that there is no room for misinterpretation about what you want. Everyone must be on the same page, and that is your page. You might consider putting it in a safe deposit box so everyone knows where it is located and a designated person will have access to it when the time comes.

If you have more questions about estate planning pertaining to you or a family member, contact the team at Scarola Law. Remember by outlining your wishes in advance, you can avoid nasty surprises and bitter arguments later on.

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