The anticipated upcoming changes to estate tax laws have many people thinking that now is not the ideal time to create an estate plan; however, now is the best time to talk about estate planning with your family and loved ones. The winter holidays are coming up soon, a time for coming together and spending time with family. This also makes it the best time to bring up any issues that affect the whole family. Estate planning is one of these issues.
It is a common misconception that estate planning is a private and secretive business. While it is certainly true that the estate itself—the assets and property—is a private matter, the planning (or lack thereof) can have a huge impact on the rest of the family, and may require some knowledge and preparation on their part. As Suzie Moraco points out in her article, Estate Planning Can Be a Vital Dialogue, “Relying upon state governments to decide the management and distribution of our assets and property can be an unsettling experience. Probate costs and the time delays associated with municipal court systems may leave heirs financially unstable.”
The best way to protect your heirs is to prepare them. If you are the anticipated heir it is in your best interests to have a respectful conversation about the subject with your parents or grandparents. Because the subject of death and inheritance is not the most comfortable, Moraco has included in her article some suggestions on how to broach the topic with family.
Although a discussion about estate planning may not exactly be a topic of holiday cheer, the holidays are about appreciating family, and part of that appreciation is the understanding that we never know how much time we have left. Don’t put off the important conversations—make the most of the time you have.