Time to Talk Turkey About Estate Planning


November 13, 2017

You know the drill. Pile the family in the car/plane. Rush to get to destination. Get there late, which really turns out to be early. Eat copious amounts of butter, bread, bird, beef. Relax on the couch long enough for someone to remember the annual Thanksgiving family football game. Then the discussion on the disposition of Mom and Dad’s estate…Wait. What?

Beyond the food and football, the holidays are often the only time when the entire family is in the same room together. The intent has always been to give thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us, and to reconnect with family which is often scattered to the four corners.

Time to talk turkey about estate planning

But there is another conversation that you should consider – and you’re probably not looking forward to it. The idea of holiday estate planning may seem unpleasant. But we’ve been on too many phone calls after someone loses a loved one, and they end up calling us because the relationship is already there.. Indeed, that is an unpleasant conversation at an unpleasant time.

If you haven’t had that conversation with your family, then perhaps you should handle a little family business before the feast. After all, no meal is more delicious than that which is enjoyed after the unburdening of obligations.

Start with a plan

So how does one (or ones) structure a family meeting upon which such heavy subject matter is to be discussed? First, make it one of the early events. Schedule it to begin once everyone has arrived, but when Cousin Jim is still in the glasses, not bottles, stage.

Next, create an agenda. Not extremely comprehensive, just a framework to keep the conversation on track. Here is an example

  1. Discussion of the will/ trust.
  2. What are your wishes for your funds? What do you hope will be accomplished with the disposition of the estate?
  3. Who is the executor or trustee?
  4. Who are your trusted legal, tax and investment advisors?
  5. Should the beneficiaries/heirs connect with these advisors to build relationships BEFORE something happens?

 

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Getting started (the donors initiate)

You should be initiating this discussion if you are the one passing the estate to the next generation.  Usually, Mom or Dad or both . An exploratory conversation might go like this:

“Hey Kids. I was thinking, since everyone will be in ______ for Thanksgiving, why don’t we host a family meeting. This is really just us being proactive, so when the day comes that we aren’t around anymore, we have a stress-free disposition of our estate.  We know you guys didn’t ask for this, but we have heard horror stories of families that didn’t plan for the day. What do you think?”

Once you have their blessing, you can just email or text the invitees, with the caveat that nobody is sick or dying… this is just a chance to connect, take care of some family business, and let the feast begin!

Getting started (the recipients initiate)

Sometimes you need to bring up the subject if the donors (parents or otherwise) won’t. But this can be challenging and can appear to be money-grubbing opportunism. An exploratory conversation might go like this:

“Hey Mom/Dad. I was thinking, since everyone will be in ______ for Thanksgiving, why don’t we host a family meeting. While we know you guys hopefully have many, many years to come, just in case, we should get an idea how you would hope for things to look if you passed. Everybody would rather have you, than any of your things, but we have heard horror stories of families that didn’t plan for the day. What do you think?”

Once you have their blessing, you can just email or text the invitees, with the caveat that nobody is sick or dying… this is just a chance to connect, take care of some family business, and let the feast begin!

Wrapping Up

Yes, this can seem morbid and unpleasant. But consider the alternative. Passing without a game plan and leaving it to family to sort out is no picnic. AFAM Capital has personally been witness to families with a “wait until we are gone plan” and those with “we know exactly what to do plan.” Without hesitation, the second one is preferable.

We hope you have a great Thanksgiving and holiday season. Take some time this season to invest in the future of your relationships. Have the challenging discussions now and set the table for a time hopefully much much later.

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The information provided herein is educational in nature, is not individualized, and is not intended to serve as the primary basis for your retirement, investment, or tax-planning decisions.

Nothing presented herein is, or is intended to constitute, investment advice, nor sales material.

381-AFAM-11/17/2017

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