December is here, which means you can now blast your favorite holiday music and plan for family gatherings! People are often less stressed about work during the holidays and have the opportunity to catch up with loved ones and recount funny, family stories. However, holiday time is also the perfect time to discuss estate planning. With the whole family present, it’s the optimal time to start talking about the family estate plans. Families with seniors and with minor children need to be particularly concerned that there are appropriate advance directives, wills, or trusts in place in case of unforeseen events.
Friedman LLP’s Kimberly Dula advises that “families need to make sure that they treat it (the holiday estate meeting) like a family meeting, ban cell phones from the room, get someone to watch the kids, make sure any stragglers are included through a conference call or videoconferencing and, of course, that everyone is in on the plan.” To determine the needs of senior family members the Assist Guide Information Services provides a checklist of how to assess their wellbeing. It is also important for the other family members to observe the behavior of senior members first hand and add their input.
The most important thing to take away from the holidays is to recognize and understand the physical and emotional needs of senior family members. The holiday time is characterized as a time full of love and warmth. By taking the time to reflect on the needs of other family members, you are planning for the future to avoid any unforeseen stresses.
It is highly advised to seek guidance from an estate planning attorney. An estate planning attorney can meet with the senior and make sure that their estate plan is up-to-date and reflects their current wishes. Estate planning also includes signing advance directives to avoid guardianship if the senior later becomes incapacitated. If the senior is already incapacitated, then an elder law attorney can help a family member plan for the asset protection and long term care of the senior. Lauren Richardson has helped hundreds of seniors and their families with estate planning and elder law. Her expertise and experiences would be helpful to any family. Call Lauren for a free phone consultation after your holiday family gathering to discuss how she can help.