Thanksgiving can be a happy time to visit with your friends and family. People often take this time to reflect on what you have to be thankful for and often that is your loved ones.
It is also a perfect time to talk about your estate plan.
One of our clients started a tradition a few years back. On Thanksgiving after the meal is eaten and before too many drinks have been consumed, he sits down with the son who will eventually take over as successor trustee. He shows his son where he physically keeps his estate plan and other planning documents. Walks him through where all the family assets are held. He highlights what has changed over the previous year.
If you are fortunate enough to enjoy spending time with your family, why, you ask, would you interrupt the joy by talking about your death?
Why? Because your estate plan is a gift to them.
Take the time to think about all of your investments, real estate, and accounts. Contemplate all of your log-ins and passwords to your financials, your social media, and your digital libraries. Consider your monthly and annual expenses. Now imagine you are suddenly gone tomorrow. Would your husband or wife know what to do? Your daughter or life-long friend?
A friend was recently bemoaning the fact that her brother left no will and a mess that she now had to clean up without any idea as to what he wanted. She is living the reality that your estate planning is – more than anything – a gift to your loved ones.
When you fail to organize your documents and execute your estate plan, you are leaving your loved ones in quite a predicament. We have opened probates that require us to call through every local bank and credit union trying to figure out where the deceased had accounts. We have had the surviving loved ones bring in boxes of financial documents not knowing whether their life insurance policies are still good, or whether retirement and investment accounts have been cashed out or rolled over into a different account.
Tracking down assets can be time-consuming and expensive. More importantly, you leave your loved ones with an ever-present uncertainty. Did they find everything? Are they wrapping up your affairs the way you wanted?
The Holiday Season is upon us. When you gather, find a way to talk about your estate plan with your family. If you don’t have your plan yet, you may be able to get one before the holidays if you act now. It’s a good time to take the opportunity to start talking about how you want your things divided as a way to begin the process.
Mass Mutual Blog Post: https://blog.massmutual.com/post/thanksgiving-estate-planning
Rebecca Mason Law Blog Post: https://wiestatelaw.com/2019/03/10/estate-planning-gift-loved-ones/