Family gathered to talk about estate planning during Thanksgiving dinner.

How to Talk to Your Family About Estate Planning During Thanksgiving

There is a lot of planning that goes into preparing and hosting the perfect family Thanksgiving dinner. Preparing everyone’s favorite dishes, decorating your home, and choosing kids’ activities are important steps in planning your Thanksgiving celebration. However, Thanksgiving is also a good time to plan to talk to your loved ones about estate planning. You can use the opportunity to tell everyone how thankful you are that they are in your life and how you want to take steps to protect them even after you are no longer with them for the holidays. Our Massachusetts estate planning attorneys offer some helpful tips that might help with talking to your family about estate planning during Thanksgiving.

How to Talk About Estate Planning During Thanksgiving

Estate planning is not a typical subject that families discuss during the holidays. Football games, holiday decorating, leftovers, and shopping are usually the topics discussed around the dinner table. 

However, reminiscing and expressing gratitude are also extremely popular topics during Thanksgiving. Those two topics give you an excellent opening and lead-in for discussing estate planning. Telling your family how grateful you are for everything you have and how you want to ensure memories are preserved for future generations can be a natural way of leading into the need for estate planning. 

Creating a checklist of topics to discuss can help you keep the conversation focused and avoid straying too far from the subjects you want to cover. Here is a good foundation of topics that you could, and should cover:

  • Who will help you manage during a health crisis? 
    • Everyone should identify the primary person who will help make decisions and provide hands-on care after a medical emergency. 
    • Family caregivers should learn what to expect during a medical crisis so they can plan and prepare instead of react and regret. 
    • There are three key documents that help facilitate healthcare decisions and management: 
      • Health Care Proxy: Appoints a Healthcare agent who will make healthcare choices on your behalf if you are unable to make them for yourself. Who is the best choice to be your healthcare agent?
      • HIPAA release: Lets you name individuals to have access to your private, protected medical information so they are not blocked by privacy laws. Who do you want calling the pharmacy or insurance company to manage your needs? 
      • Advanced Care Directive (Living Will): This document contains your wishes regarding healthcare instructions, including if you wish to receive life support. It provides guidance to your Healthcare Agent if called upon to make life or death decisions. Who best understands your wishes for the quality of your life during an episode of incapacity? Are they going to be your best advocate?

Who will take care of legal or financial decisions if you are incapacitated?

  • Durable Power of Attorney: Lets you designate who you want to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf if you become sick or incapacitated and cannot make them for yourself.  Who do you trust to make these critical decisions? Who has knowledge and experience with these types of issues?  
  • Last Will and Testament 
    • A Will is a signed and witnessed written document that indicates how your assets will be distributed through the probate process after you die. Have you discussed this with your loved ones? Do they wish to own the family home? What about special family heirlooms? Who feels they can manage the role of an executor? 

Explaining your wishes to your family ensures that your family can help you. It also helps them not to feel burdened with certain decisions when they arise. Just be prepared for some resistance. Some family members may not be ready to discuss this kind of planning. Do not force family members to discuss it. If it is not possible now, choose another time soon to discuss your future needs and wishes. 

Contact a Massachusetts Estate-Planning Attorney for More Information

The important thing to remember is that you need an estate plan to protect your family, your property, and yourself. If you do not have an estate plan or you have not reviewed your estate plan recently, now is a great time to meet with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney to discuss your estate plan. Contact our office today to find out more.