Author: Rebekah L. Nau, CFP®
As the holidays draw near, families are gathering to enjoy each other’s company, share in family traditions, and stuff as much food in their mouths as humanly possible. Often times, we avoid awkward or difficult conversations with our family members during this time because we want to focus on joyful matters. But there are some topics that can’t be avoided forever.
Here are 3 necessary, but possibly uncomfortable, conversations that you might not have had with your family members yet:
Estate Planning: Many times, the discussion about estate planning should happen between parents and their children. It’s best to discuss your parents’ intentions for their estate early on to avoid any confusion down the road. When there is a death in the family, no one wants the added stress of trying to interpret what that person truly desired to happen with their assets. Find out what their wishes are ahead of time and make sure they have the proper legal documents in place. Having legal documents also ensures that minor children are taken care of and medical needs are made clear, so young couples are not excused from this conversation!
Life Insurance: It’s never easy to discuss death – most of us avoid the topic if possible. But avoiding a conversation about planning for the unthinkable could have dire consequences. A discussion about life insurance needs can help protect a surviving spouse from financial turmoil. Life insurance proceeds may provide enough money to cover basic needs, mortgage payments, college costs, etc. Health care expenses are particularly important as the cost of health care continues to grow. Having the proper protection in place can offer peace of mind and a plan for your family should anything happen to you.
Long-Term Care: Aging happens to us all, but it happens to our parents first. If you haven’t had a discussion with your parents about their needs and wishes as they age, that conversation is not going to get any easier with time. Schedule a time to sit down and discuss their concerns regarding aging: whether they have long-term care insurance (or should have it), what living arrangements they prefer, and how they want to handle medical care decisions. This is a good time to bring up Estate Planning as well and circle back to item 1 on this list.
While the holiday table might not be the best atmosphere for these difficult conversations, there may be another time during the holiday season to visit with family and bring up these topics. Families that are open and communicate with each other are less likely to run into stressful or disastrous situations. Don’t forget to enlist help from a professional (attorney, accountant, and a financial advisor) to create a plan that makes sense for you and your family.
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