Canadians usually think of the holiday season as a time to relax with their family, with everyone snuggled together inside cozy homes as the cold and snow rage outdoors. But while many of us prefer like to keep conversation light as we pass the turkey around the table, the holidays may actually be a particularly good time to begin the conversations around estate planning. After all, more and more Canadian families are spread across the country or even abroad. The holidays may be one of the few opportunities you have to get everyone sitting in the same room.
Start Slow. Before you start asking morbid questions at the dinner table, it’s a good idea to take things a step back. Start slow and light. Maybe bring estate planning up as a topic to gauge interest, and then decide as a family when is a good time to sit down and discuss your estates. Boxing Day, perhaps, or sometime before New Year’s may be a good option.
Perhaps Bring Up Your Estate First. You can talk about how your personalized estate plan is coming together, who you’ve chosen as your executor, and why you’ve made the decisions you have about guardianship of your dependents and more. This can be a good opening to discuss with your parents whether they’ve created an estate plan and, if they have, when it was last updated. If you recently welcomed a new child into your life, the holidays can be a good time to remind the happy grandparents that they should probably update their estate plan.
Dig In Deeper. If your parents haven’t created an estate plan yet, it’s time to encourage them to do so. If they have, you may want to dig in deeper while everyone in the family is around to discuss the plan and understand your parents’ intentions. This will reduce surprises after they’ve passed. One important question to ask is whether they’ve appointed an executor yet.
Whether they’ve chosen just you, one of your siblings, or all of you jointly, you may want to suggest they consider working with an estate advisor to pick someone who will be less invested in how the estate is distributed. While choosing one of your children to be your executor seems like an obvious choice, it can lead to jealousy amongst siblings, and your executor may have a conflict of interest if they’re one of the heirs or they’re holding a grudge against a sibling or stepsibling.
Discuss with your parents how they want their legacy to be preserved. Have they chosen specific assets to go to certain children? If they can explain their reasoning now, there will likely be less bickering over why so-and-so got all the antique but someone-else only got the artwork.
At MacMillan Estate Planning, we take the necessary time to understand you and your family’s unique dynamic. We craft personalized estate plans and bring creative solutions to the table to prevent confusion and fighting. If the holidays have you thinking you need to create or update your estate plan, our estate advisors are here to help. Contact us and get started with a free consultation today.