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The gang's all here; talk about your California estate plan

The holiday season is one of the few times each year that entire families make a concerted effort to be in the same place at the same time. Even members of small families have incompatible schedules that make scheduling otherwise difficult. A California parent who wants to convey their estate wishes may have no better opportunity to talk face-to-face with heirs than the holidays.

No one is suggesting that the ideal time to discuss your estate planning goals is during a holiday feast or while children are unwrapping gifts. There are in-between moments during family holiday gatherings ? perhaps during a lull in celebrations ? that invite conversation about finances.

Adult children often skirt around the subject of inheritance for fear siblings or parents will view them as greedy. Parents can feel uncomfortable about acknowledging and discussing advanced age. Death is no one's favorite subject and open money discussions are not far behind.

Just because families are reluctant to bring up these topics, it doesn't mean that individuals haven't thought about them. Adult children wonder whether mom and dad have wills and about expectations parents have regarding health care in old age. Parents usually realize that heirs need to know what to do if incapacity occurs, but expressing it can be hard.

Estate plans include legal documents that outline everything you want to happen with your assets. Attorneys know that family members left in the dark about your desires can be disappointed, shocked and even litigious after your death.

Families take a lot of time and effort to have a shared holiday season. The peace and contentment you enjoy together can be shattered in the future by a family dispute over an estate.

The last things you want to bequeath to heirs are hard feelings. Open a discussion. Let adult children in on your estate plans. That way no one is unclear about what you want and expect.

Source: kitsapsun.com, "Pass the turkey, then start the money talk" Claudia Buck, Nov. 25, 2013

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