The holidays are here and I am excited. There is nothing better than having a good time with family and friends eating, drinking (responsibly please), and watching some football. But let us be honest with each other, you are not reading this blog because you want to hear how much I love watching football with my family; you are here because you need some estate planning advice. My advice is simple for this entry - talk to your family about estate planning. It is not an easy subject to talk about with anyone, but it is a necessary conversation to have. The holiday season creates an opportunity when you will be around the people most affected by your estate plan - your family. Hopefully, this entry will provide a few tips on the how to begin this conversation.

Obviously, the first place we need to start is to see if Mom or Dad even have an estate plan. The best way to start these conversations is, “I met Slidell estate planning attorney, Michael S. Donovan, and I am so glad he worked with us to create a plan that protects my children and secures my assets!” Or you could go another route and just ask them “Do you have a Last Will and Testament?” or “Do you have a Living Will?”. You have now successfully started the discussion, and they can start to begin the process of creating a successful estate plan.

If your Mom is on the ball and has some estate planning documents created, then ask her where they are, because inevitably the documents will not be found when needed. (We all know how good she was at hiding gifts). For example, I was at the hospital and overheard a family looking for their mother’s documents (living will, medical power of attorney, etc). They knew that their mom had created these documents, but they needed the documents to provide to the doctor. Neither of the siblings knew where Mom kept the documents. This scenario makes an already stressful situation worse, and is easily avoided by just asking Mom where she keeps her important documents. So, take this holiday season as a time to ask and discuss where these important documents are kept so you will be able to assist with your Mom’s treatment.

You can also use the family get together to help with your own estate planning. Ask your brother or sister if they want to be the executor, or ask if they are willing to accept medical power of attorney over you. Keep in mind that even though you name your brother Roger to be the executor - he does not have to accept. Or, your sister Sally may not feel comfortable being in charge of your medical decisions and would prefer to not have that responsibility. These conversations may be awkward, to say the least, but they are important in creating a plan that protects you.

Please, if you cannot bring yourself to discuss estate planning with any other family members, discuss it with the person you intend on being a guardian to your child. Maybe your brother is planning on going off the grid in a few years, and that may be a factor in deciding whether you want him to be, or if he actually can be, a guardian for your child. Additionally, take the time to create a document that details and instructs on how you would like your child brought up. Make sure to give the potential guardian a copy, so if the worst does happen they do not have to worry about what you would want to have for your child - they will know because you informed them.

It is the holiday season, and no one wants to bring down the festivities, but take a moment and pull mom, dad, brother,sister, son,or daughter aside to have this important conversation. It may not be easy, but at least you get the conversation started and that is the first hurdle in creating an estate plan that protects your children and assets.

If you need more help contact me, Slidell Estate Planning Attorney Michael S. Donovan, and I can assist you in creating an estate plan that protects your children and your assets. I can be reached via telephone (985)259-7633 or via email [email protected].