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Holidays provide opportune time to discuss estate planning matters

In just a couple of short weeks, the Thanksgiving holiday will be upon us. As families throughout the Boston area gather to give thanks and spend quality time with one another, it may also be a good time to discuss some weightier topics including aging parents’ plans with regard to estate planning matters.

Adult children often have many questions and concerns about a parent's long-term care needs, who will retain certain sentimental belongings and whether a will or trust has been establish and, if so, what that means for them and their own families. Despite the fact that these and many other related questions are on the minds of adult children who return home for the holidays, many are too uncomfortable to inquire or start conversations about estate planning.

Consequently, in the event a parent suffers a massive stroke and is no longer able to communicate his or her wishes, grown children are left to grapple with questions related to whether or not they are providing a parent with the medical and long-term care he or she would have wanted. Additionally, if a parent passes away without ever discussing his or her estate plan with family members, arguments may develop over such seemingly minor, yet sentimental, things like who gets great grandma's tea set.

In short, while, for many families, discussions surrounding estate planning can be difficult and uncomfortable; such conversations are also necessary to ensure that a parent's wishes are understood and followed and that grievances are aired and laid to rest. Of course a family also shouldn't expect to harsh out and resolve all of these issues in just one sit down. Rather, conversations about estate planning between family members should be an annual occurrence.

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

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