Whether it’s Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, a lot of people feel pressure to continue family holiday traditions. This can include going to grandma’s house for dinner, digging out antique ornaments, or dusting off old recipes. Holidays are fraught with expectations and these expectations may be part of what causes excessive stress during the season. The same is true when it comes to estate planning. Both over and under planning can result in unneeded stress and cause problems. The key is finding a balance between having everything “perfect” versus doing nothing at all. A family’s needs and expectations are constantly changing so it is important to keep that in mind when doing your holiday planning and your estate planning.
Once you prioritize what matters most to you, everything else should follow in those pursuits. Here are a few strategies you can use this holiday season to minimize stress while securing your family’s future:
Give a Customized gift
Usually, customized gifts are more meaningful than run of the mill gifts because they require more effort. The same is true with estate plans. By doing nothing, you choose to have your assets pass to your closest family members based on Florida law. Or worse, if your heirs don’t take action, your assets could pass directly to the state of Florida. On the other hand, you have the power to create a plan that suits your family’s unique situation. There are several documents with customized provisions that an experienced estate planning attorney will be able to implement for you. For instance, you may want to set up individual provisions for your children or you may decide to leave everything to your spouse and have him/her provide for your children. Bear in mind that a Last Will and Testament may not cover all your family’s needs, so other estate planning tools like a Trust (either Revocable or Irrevocable), or a Durable Power of Attorney, may be beneficial.
Families’ expectations and needs are constantly evolving. Effective communication, although difficult at times, is crucial and can go a long way toward avoiding conflict. If you are swamped at work and don’t think you will find time to cook this year’s holiday feast; let your family know ahead of time and order in from your favorite restaurant. Similarly, when speaking with your estate planning attorney it is best to express your genuine concerns upfront so that they can be addressed accordingly and be provided for in your estate plan. For example, if you have a child that struggles with substance abuse or has special needs you should discuss that with your attorney because these issues can be resolved through specific provisions in a Living Trust or a Special Needs Trust. Communicating your concerns upfront will avoid conflict in the future and lay the groundwork for a more enjoyable holiday with your loved ones.
Be Like a Palm Tree
Resistance to change is normal, but the ability to be resilient and flexible, can make all the difference during the holiday season and while planning for your family’s future.
Did you know that there are some palm trees that can withstand winds up to 150 miles per hour? While the massive trunks of those oak trees in your backyard may be able to support the weight of branches, they are limited in flexibility compared to the stems of the palm tree. Palm trees are able to bend 40 to 50 degrees during a storm without snapping. Thus, when hurricane force winds strike, it is the palm tree that will bend in the storm but not break. Estate planning requires flexibility, communication, and the ability to weather through tough situations like divorce, family conflict, or the death of a loved one. It is especially important to seek the advice of a seasoned estate planning attorney following such major life changes.
We wish you endurance like the palm tree amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Contact OC Estate & Elder Law at (954) 251-0332 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how setting up an estate plan can give you peace of mind this holiday season.