This Thanksgiving, Dish Up Some Estate Planning!

Thanksgiving can be a good time to talk to parents or other older loved ones about the plans they have in place, whether to understand more about what those plans are or to encourage them to make appropriate plans. It's also a great time to share with others what you've done on that front, to make sure that your own plans are in place.

As you sit with your parents or grandparents around the Thanksgiving table, consider using the occasion to discuss important planning associated with having a will or other advanced directives, like a power of attorney. (And if the Thanksgiving meal itself is too public (grandchildren!), consider the prep time in the kitchen beforehand or the leftover lunch table on Black Friday before heading to the mall.)

I'll leave it to others to describe in greater detail the different “conversational strategies” of the appeal to duty, the appeal to love, the appeal to loyalty, or the fear of bad outcomes. Indeed, your parents’ personality or objectives bears a lot on which strategy to use. So, regardless of how you approach the conversation, be sure to start the conversation. Then, once you’ve set the hook, you can make arrangements to speak with an estate planner about the topic.

Remember to use the “two ears, one mouth” rule. Simply hectoring a parent about getting their will done, at least what I've heard from my clients, may be no more effective than hectoring your child to do his/her homework.

Once you've broached the subject, shed some light, and ideally, lead by example: explain how you've done the important planning of preparing a will and related documents. Even if you're not going to bring a copy of your estate planning documents to the Thanksgiving table, it might be an appropriate time to share that should “anything” happen - Heaven forbid - there are plans in place. Share that the documents are on file in your home or in the office of your estate planning attorney, and that the documents that you created represent your true wishes and that family members should not second-guess the plans you've put together.

Beyond that, enjoy the holiday shopping! Enjoy the football! Enjoy the turkey! But don't miss an opportunity to sit down with a loved one when you have their full attention and share your concern and your desire to make sure their plans are carried out when the time comes. As always, if you have any questions about this topic, feel free to give me a call.

Contact me today with questions or comments.