Older adults with adult children talking in a living room

When is the Best Time to Discuss an Estate Plan with Family?

As the end of the year draws near, there are many things people usually reflect on: memories made in the last year, thoughts for the future, and more. Another fact people may reflect on is their estate plan — where it stands currently and if changes need to be made.

Discussing an estate plan with others may feel uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. This helps others know your wishes and doesn’t leave anyone guessing about what you wanted to see fulfilled.

While many choose to talk with their beneficiaries about their estate plan, the question remains, when is the right time to have this conversation?

There is not a necessary “right” or “wrong” time to talk about your estate plan with your family. With the end of the year usually meaning family events or gatherings, some may choose to talk about their estate plan then. We examine the pros and cons of having this discussion during the holiday season.

Pros of Having an Estate Plan Conversation During the Holidays

The most significant advantage of having this conversation during the holidays, or anytime, is you have peace of mind knowing that others know your wishes. You may not want to share every detail of your estate plan (for example, how much money each beneficiary will receive) but you could share information that you feel is critical for individuals to know before you pass.

Another benefit of having this conversation during the holidays is that you most likely will already be with family to celebrate so you will not need to call a separate meeting. When holding the meeting, it’s critical to have all beneficiaries in attendance as that way everyone is hearing the same information all at once. That way, no one can claim that something was said that’s not true.

Thanks to technology, if you can not hold the meeting in person, you could hold the meeting via an internet meeting room such as Zoom. Wherever you hold the meeting, ensure that it is in a place where people feel comfortable. If you are out to dinner at a restaurant, that might not be as comfortable as someone’s home. You want the meeting to be in a space where someone could honestly share their feelings especially if they are not what you are expecting to hear.

Cons of Having an Estate Plan Conversation During the Holidays

Even though everyone might be together for the holidays, there could be some downfalls about talking about your estate plan during this season.

One aspect to keep in mind is that the holidays can bring a lot of stress — the stress of trying to make everything “perfect” for family and friends, finding the right gifts, preparing food, and more. Stress can make people feel on edge or unhappy. When talking about your estate plan, you want your beneficiaries to have a clear state of mind and not be focused on other priorities.

Staying with a clear state of mind — many holiday gatherings involve individuals drinking alcohol. While there is nothing wrong with celebrating the holiday, if someone is too intoxicated, you do not want to be talking about your estate plan at that time.

Another reason to not bring up your estate plan during the holidays is that beneficiaries may not want to talk about it. The holidays are usually thought of as a happy time and talking about life without you in it would be somber.

What Guardian Law Group LLP Can Do For You

No matter when you choose to talk to family and friends about your estate plan one point is clear — it’s important to have this conversation. The conversation can’t happen, though, if you don’t have an estate plan. That’s where Guardian Law Group LLP can help.

Our experienced team has created countless estate plans for individuals and couples across Alberta. No matter what stage of life you’re in, an estate plan is essential. Reach out to us to get started on yours today — (403) 457-7778.