The holidays are upon us, which often means time spent with family, perhaps around a boisterously loud dinner table or while quietly enjoying eggnog by the fireplace. Despite the revelry and relaxation, we’ve all had difficult conversations with folks we see only occasionally, and these coming weeks may increase your chances of dancing around incendiary issues that arise in many families. Perhaps you choose to leave the room when the topic turns to politics or religious or ethical concerns. Perhaps that’s a good thing. But there is one difficult conversation you should consider having with your loved ones before you no longer can: the status of your estate plan or your parents’ estate plan.
Nee Law Firm was recently hired by an adult child, seeking our help to probate his mother’s estate. Mom owned multiple properties, and her Will directed that her entire estate was to go to her only son. The process could have been easily and much more efficiently done during mom’s life. In fact, a review of mom’s paperwork found that an attorney had drafted documents for mom’s property to automatically transfer to her only son at her death, thereby avoiding probate and its inherent costs and concerns. Unfortunately, those documents were unsigned and, therefore, ineffective.
Had the family discussed mom’s estate plan before her death, they might have saved much money, time, and effort to affect what mom intended, and mom would have had the comfort of knowing that her intentions were fulfilled without delay or additional cost.
Even though it may be uncomfortable, perhaps this season will provide an opportunity to give this gift to your loved ones: start the discussion that you and your family might otherwise regret not having.