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Discussing your estate plan with your family over the holidays

If there's anything that people dread discussing over family holiday get-togethers more than politics, it's financial issues. However, the holiday season brings family members together who rarely if ever see each other during the rest of the year. Therefore, it is practical time to discuss serious matters like estate plans.

The conversation can flow naturally when multiple generations of family are together. For many older people, this is a chance to gift cherished heirlooms to family members while they're still alive. Why not let someone enjoy what you're not using and avoid family infighting when you're gone?

The holidays are also an optimal time for a more formal discussion with adult kids about your estate plan. This includes not just what assets you plan to leave, but the legacy you'd like to see your family carry on. As one certified financial planner says, "It can be a discussion about the oldest generation's wishes and desires for the future."

Estate planning also includes end-of-life wishes. These should be included in your estate planning documents so that you don't have children and other family members in conflict over when it's time to let you go.

In addition to detailing your wishes in your estate planning documents, it's best to discuss them with your kids while they're all together. It's also easier on everyone to have these discussions while you're healthy rather than waiting until you're facing a serious and perhaps terminal illness.

If you're leaving money to your grandchildren in the form of a 529 college savings plan or a trust, this is a good time to discuss the importance of money with them. Many grandchildren have no idea how hard the generations that came before them worked to accumulate the money that they take for granted.

If you need some advice on how best to broach these delicate subjects with your family, your California estate planning attorney can help.

Source: US News & World Report, "Financial Conversations You Should Have During the Holidays," Susannah Snider, accessed Dec. 13, 2016

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