|Madeline Colthorpe, Receptionist|
Let’s face it: estate planning isn’t the best dinnertime conversation. What better way to destroy a delicious meal than to discuss the passing of the ones you love? So maybe this discussion doesn’t have to happen during dinner, but it does need to happen. Although we try to avoid thinking about it, we aren’t going to be around forever. For many of us, that means leaving behind family and loved ones – people who we would hate to know are fighting someday after our death as a result of the money or possessions we left behind.
Growing up, I had so many fond memories of my grandparents’ house. Memories of Easter egg hunts in the backyard, Friday night hamburger dinners, crabbing in the canal, and eating Klondike bars while sitting contently in the presence of those I loved. Then, my grandmother, an eighty-year-old woman who still push-mowed her lawn, fell unexpectedly and left us without even a chance to say goodbye. What I realize now that I’m older is that she also left us without having the opportunity to discuss her estate planning documents with her children. My grandmother passed away nine years ago, but my family is still feeling the impact of this missed discussion today. Although no one would come right out and say it, there is tension in the family that was never there before. Friday night hamburger dinners are now a thing of the past. Even worse, no one makes an effort to see one another over the holidays anymore.
Long story short, be proactive. Although it’s not comfortable, sit your family down and discuss your estate planning documents – talk about how money is going to be divided and what precious possessions, such as jewelry, are going to go to whom. The passing of a loved one is stressful enough; don’t add to the stress by having this emotional time be the first time your children hear of your decisions.