I saw the below meme this week on Facebook. It made me chuckle. Awkward Thanksgiving conversations are almost a tv cliché. Someone brings up politics or religion in a way that invokes the silent treatment or a full-on verbal battle.
Another topic that is often avoided is estate planning. Over half of American families do not have even a simple will. We avoid the topic. We don’t like to think of our own demise. But our silence on the topic won’t stop the $30 trillion in wealth that will pass in the next few years from baby boomers to the next generation. Many of these inheritances will pass through probate due to a lack of planning and will leave grieving family members with more mess to clean up.
At the holidays and always, tell your family members you love them. This holiday season, tell them you love them enough to protect them from the burdens of managing your estate. Take the time to meet with an attorney to develop a comprehensive estate plan that can be built to guard your treasures for your family against creditors, divorce, lawsuits, and bankruptcy. You can also work to build lasting family harmony if you have discussions now about the items that have special meaning to certain family members.
A trust is the best vehicle to protect all that you’ve worked to achieve. Anything placed in the trust avoids the probate process and goes to your family according to your wishes. Trusts can be as simple or complex as you desire. While a trust costs more than a will initially, it generally will save both money and time later.
A will does not avoid the expenses or stresses of probate. A will simply serves as a letter to the court announcing your wishes on how you want your property distributed. Creditors will still have the chance to claim their stake in your estate. Nonetheless, a will is better protection than having no written instructions and can still help with family harmony. A will also can assign guardianship for your minor children.
We are running a Christmas special on both wills and trusts, with simple wills and medical documents starting at $500 (and the spouse is free!). Basic trust packages start at just $1375. So talk turkey and buy a Christmas gift that won’t be re-
gifted: the peace of mind that comes with a solid estate plan.