Discussing Estate Planning with Family during the Holidays

by Norris Law Group on November 24, 2014

The holiday season is upon us. For many of us, this is the time of year when we get together with family members whom we may not see very often. Generations of family members sit around the table to eat, laugh, and talk about all sorts of things: memories, stories, traditions. It’s a time to catch up and share what’s going on in one another’s lives.

In some families, the holidays might be a convenient time to discuss some more serious topics as well, including concerns about one another, perhaps about health or finances. Sometimes older family members bring up such matters. But if they don’t, and you think that these conversations may be important, is there a “delicate” way to bring up subjects such as estate planning or end-of-life decisions?

The good news is that yes, there is—but it is important to be considerate of the feelings of all family members concerned. Here are some strategies for gently approaching difficult subjects:

  • Have you been to see an estate planning attorney yourself to discuss matters such as your will, living trust, power of attorney, or any advanced care directives like a living will or health care surrogate? If so, you could mention that to an older family member and see how he or she reacts. The older family member may try to change the subject or respond in kind, and this reaction may give you some insight as to how to continue (or end) the conversation at that point.
  • Unfortunately, siblings often argue with one another when it comes to the dealing with a parent’s passing. You could mention to your parent or parents that you are concerned about this and that you would like to avoid any arguments if at all possible.
  • If you have siblings, it may be a good idea to discuss the topic of estate planning with them first before going to older family members yourself. Family dynamics can indeed be “dynamic,” and perhaps one family member might be better able to bring up different subjects to another.
  • Make sure you put in a little “due diligence” and research the topics you’d like to discuss with family members before bringing them up. For example, while it is always a good idea to have a will, a will does not offer protection against probate, and this is an important distinction.

If you feel that these conversations with your loved ones have been successful, be sure you can refer them to someone whom they can call for more information or to take further steps toward estate planning.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County, UT and throughout Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.


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