A New Holiday Tradition — Family Meetings

December 3, 2014

family-meeting-around-table-300x199Many families gather together to share in this wondrous and magical time of the holiday season, but it can also be a time to address important family topics — estate planning or elder care needs. While all are together, begin a new holiday tradition of the “Family Meeting”.

A necessary but sometimes uncomfortable topic for families to address is estate planning or elder care for mom and dad. All too often many adult children find themselves in a reactionary position when mom or dad become incapacitated, or they pass without a Will. Parents are recommended to hold a Family Meeting with their children to discuss their thoughts and plans for incapacity and death. Below are illustrations of two family estate planning scenarios. Which one is closer to your own?

“Mom and Dad Planner”- have executed Wills, Financial Powers of Attorney, and Health Care Advance Directives. They held a Family Meeting to explain the rationale for their personal property distribution – in hopes of minimizing misunderstandings after death. They have created an estate binder detailing:

(a) the location of all important documents

(b) logins and passwords to financial accounts

(c) life insurance contact information

(d) location of financial assets

(e) listing of trusted advisors

(f) beneficiary designations for all insurance and retirement accounts

The Planners have informed their oldest child that she is the designated Agent, and the location of the estate binder, in the event both become incapacitated (or deceased). All burial arrangements are selected and prepaid.

“Mom and Dad Ostrich” have a Living Will from the internet, but have not made the necessary decisions to execute a Will or Financial Power of Attorney. Some accounts are jointly titled with their daughter for managing bills. They are sure the kids will work out everything when they are gone, even though they admit their daughter and son don’t get along. Although mom inherited burial plots, the kids think mom wants to be cremated. Mom has early stages of dementia and dad is very secretive about their assets.

In both cases, the parents tell their kids that everything is taken care of … and truly mean it. The Ostrich family will have a higher probability of uncertainty and chaos following mom and dad’s passing. Making burial and memorial decisions are much easier if loved ones know your intentions in advance. Having a Last Will and Testament is the only way to legally ensure that your assets get distributed according with your wishes. Estate Planning will not avoid all problems, but making your intentions known and implementing legal documents, could minimize costly, family misery and chaos. Start a new holiday tradition this season — a Family Meeting!

If you have any questions on estate planning and elder care Family Meetings and how this information may apply to you or one of your loved ones, please call us at 404-909-8842 or email at admin@brysonlawfirmpc.com.


Bryson Law Firm: Suwanee, Georgia. Attorney Richard Bryson has over 17 years experience with estate law, elder law, estate planning, probate avoidance, wills and trusts, tax planning, asset protection, personal injury and business formation and representation. Contact our Gwinnett County law firm at 404-909-8842.