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'Tis The Season for Estate Planning

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

by Erin McAllister, Paralegal

When your family gathers during the holidays, it is the perfect time to discuss estate planning. Many families are geographically spread out, so when everyone is together in one place for the holidays, having a group meeting to discuss the family's estate plan makes sense.

There are two main issues that need to be addressed: advanced directives and the parents' will. Since these issues are hard topics, it is best to set a time before, after, or even on a different day so long as everyone is still in town. To help coordinate, it is usually a good idea to notify everyone, in advance of them making travel or vacation plans, that the discussion or meeting is going to happen on a particular day and time.

Advanced Directives

An advanced directive is a legal document that advises doctors about certain medical decisions a person wishes to be made if they become unable to make the decisions. Typically, these involve requests to either remove, or not remove, life support, or not to resuscitate, if a person becomes incapacitated, comatose, brain dead, or is suffering from some other condition.

Frequently, advanced directives are difficult documents to discuss with family members, especially if a parent is adamant about not being resuscitated if the worst happens. Having the discussion may be difficult, but when everyone is together, there is a greater chance to talk openly and reach an understanding.

Will / Estate Plan

Another important topic to discuss is the estate plan. While parents will generally leave their estates to their spouses, children and grandchildren, some individuals want to make charitable contributions as well as leave certain items to non-family members. It is important to discuss these matters so that when the time comes, there is no confusion. Also, having the discussion may also enlighten a parent as to what are the important, sentimental items that are specifically wanted by family members.

Meeting with an estate planning attorney before having the family meeting is a good idea in order to understand all the items that need to be addressed. Also, since these issues are all matters of state law, a local attorney can advise you about how the process works, give you some talking points to discuss with your family, and help you finalize your documents.

Digital Planning

Lastly, while the above might require some emotional discussions, discussing with the family how to handle the email and social media accounts (Facebook, twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc.) will feel like a lighthearted way to end the discussion.

This Blog is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the law firm publisher. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

Driving Directions from I-15:
• Take the Pleasant Grove exit 275 from I-15
• Turn North onto Pleasant Grove Blvd
• Turn left onto W. Grove Pkwy
• Quickly turn left into the Synergy/Spaulding Law parking lot.