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Discussing estate plans as family members gather for Thanksgiving

For many in Tennessee, Thanksgiving is a favored holiday, a time when tradition and family are honored. Often, loved ones are spread across the nation, and Thanksgiving offers a rare chance to gather everyone in one location, even if just for a few days. During this time of gratitude, the perfect opportunity is presented to discuss estate planning with all family members present.

This is a discussion that should never be sprung on loved ones with no warning. It should also be said that bringing up one's will while sitting at the Thanksgiving table is also inadvisable. However, there are plenty of other times during these few days when a family meeting can be called for the purpose of having this discussion. Whether to tell loved ones the subject of that meeting in advance is left to the discretion of the party calling the meeting.

Once the family is all together, the discussion can be made easier by having a list of bullet points that should be covered. This list will vary from one family to another, but a basic overview of how assets will be distributed is a common starting point. It is not necessary to give a point-by-point list of who will inherit what, but it is helpful to at least discuss how major assets such as the family home or any significant investments will be handled.

Families should also take this opportunity to discuss incapacitation planning. It is important to identify which parties will be expected to assume various decision-making roles if that need should arise. By having this talk in person, many families can avoid conflict and tension if a sudden illness or injury should arise and there is confusion about who should step into those roles.

Discussing estate planning while family members are gathered in one place can greatly simplify the matter for all involved. This does not have to be a lengthy or detailed meeting. That said, Tennessee families may want to consider making the discussion an annual event, so that more details or applicable changes can be covered down the line.

Source:, "Estate Planning Over Thanksgiving? Time to Talk Turkey", Jason Notte, Nov. 9, 2015

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