How to Approach Sensitive Estate Planning Topics Over the Holidays

Welcome to the Kazi Law Firm! We are a boutique law firm steeped in Texas tradition personifying the warmth and congeniality consistent with southern hospitality. We believe in preserving integrity and professionalism with true Texan charm, staying true to our roots, while providing essential, affordable legal services to all. Located just north of Dallas, Texas in the rapidly growing suburb of Frisco; the Kazi Law Firm concentrates on contracts drafting and review, wills & estate planning, real estate law, landlord, tenant, mediation, and general business law needs.

The holidays are a time for joyous reunions, reminiscent conversations, and elaborate story-telling with family members you may not see on a regular basis. Oddly enough, it can also be the perfect time of year to bring up sensitive topics you may be reluctant to discuss over the phone or in an email. To be honest, there’s never a perfect time to discuss estate planning or end-of-life desires with your loved ones. However, holiday get-togethers often open the door to these types of uncomfortable, yet vital discussions. We hope the following tips can help you navigate the conversation in an effective yet light-hearted manner.

Tip #1: Reminisce & Relate

When you find yourself gathered around the crackling fire with family members after enjoying a hearty Christmas dinner, it may be an opportune time to discuss your estate planning desires. Bringing up issues related to wills, trusts, or advance directives directly may seem awkward, but there are ways to subtly steer the conversation in that direction, without causing unnecessary anxiety.

  • Refer to an item that was left to you by a deceased relative and use it as a topic of conversation. “Grandma left me these dishes in her Will and I am so grateful that she did.”
  • Refer to an item you intend to leave to others. “It warms my heart to think that when I am gone, these goblets will still have a place at family gatherings.”
  • Ask broad, open-ended questions that spark conversation about end of life issues: “What is the one thing you would want everyone to remember about you?” “What do you consider your most important accomplishment?” “How would like your grandchildren to remember you?” “What is your legacy?”
  • Bring up a situation you have heard about from mutual friends or relatives. “Did you hear about _______? She died without a Will and the family is struggling with how to handle her estate.”

These are all indirect approaches. Your other option is to approach the topic head-on by suggesting a family meeting. Acknowledge that it may seem awkward while emphasizing the importance of these discussions. Explain to your loved ones the need to have this conversation once and for all by ripping off the proverbial bandaid and then putting the topic to bed.

Tip #2: Be Tactful

While it’s good to be direct about your own plans, asking others about their plans can be trickier. You don’t want to offend your relatives, especially if that means they’ll refuse to discuss the matter. If you want to ask your relatives about their plans or encourage them to start making plans, you might want to start by talking about your own plans.

If you’ve already set up your plan, one way to get the discussion going is to explain the planning vehicles you have in place and why you chose them. If you’ve worked with us, you can describe how the process unfolded and how we supported you to create a plan designed for your unique needs.

For example, you could explain that you recently had your estate plan made by the Kazi Law Firm, and it’s done wonders to put your mind at ease. Then you can casually ask your relatives if they have had similar experiences. Mention any specific questions or concerns you initially had about planning and how the Kazi Law Firm worked with you to address them. If you have loved ones who’ve yet to do any planning and have doubts about its usefulness, discuss any concerns they have in a sympathetic and supportive manner, sharing how you dealt with similar issues whenever possible.

You know your relatives. Think about how they might react and plan your conversation tactics accordingly. If you’re asking others, a one-on-one conversation may be more appropriate than posing the question in a group.

Tip #3: Explain Your Thinking

From the start, assure everyone that the conversation isn’t about prying into anyone’s finances, health, or personal relationships. Instead, it’s about providing for the family’s future security and well-being no matter what happens. It’s about ensuring that everyone’s wishes are clearly understood and honored, not about finding out how much money someone stands to inherit.

While some relatives might be reluctant to open up, being surrounded by loved ones who will ultimately benefit from planning can make people more willing to discuss these sensitive subjects. Talking about these issues can avoid unnecessary conflict and expense down the road. When family members don’t clearly understand the rationale behind one another’s planning choices, it’s likely to breed conflict, resentment, and even costly legal battles.

Stay calm and organize a way for everyone to take turns speaking so the conversation doesn’t become a shouting match. Also, while holiday get-togethers may be a good time to broach estate planning topics, don’t feel that you have to resolve everything right then and there. Plan a way to end the conversation and move onto another topic.

Tip #4: For the Love of Family

Though death and incapacity can be awkward subjects to discuss, having these intimate discussions about how to properly plan for such events can actually bring your family closer together this holiday season. In fact, our clients consistently share that after going through our estate planning process they feel more connected to the people they love the most. They tell us that they have found more clarity and peace of mind. It’s imperative to remind your family that these discussions, albeit uncomfortable, are necessary to plan for the seamless transition from this life on earth.

Passing along our wealth is one thing, but what about passing along the values of work ethic and generosity that enabled us to acquire and grow that wealth in the first place? Too many fortunes built by one generation are lost by the next, not due to bad luck, mismanagement, or the IRS, but due to a lack of understanding of wealth management and preservation. Also, when your family doesn’t appreciate the rationale behind your estate planning choices, this lack of understanding can lead to conflict and resentment among family members. You can easily prevent these misunderstandings by explaining to them that estate planning is just another vehicle to show love for future generations to come.

At the Kazi Law Firm, we can help guide and support you in discussing estate planning with your loved ones. When done right, planning can put your mind to ease in a way that’s incomparable. The peace from knowing that the people you love most will be protected and provided for is second to none. Let’s start the new year with a plan; not just any plan, but with an estate plan! If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us for your complimentary initial consultation.

I built my law practice on the premise of being a life raft in a sea of sharks. I want to be an advocate for those that have been wronged and are too intimidated to seek help. My firm is here to explore your options, guide you through your legal journey, and give you that safe space to ask questions! There’s no such thing as a stupid question…Only the ones you don’t ask. So, my question to my clients is not “do you have any questions?” But rather “what questions do you have?”

As always, the Kazi Law Firm is standing by to help you in your time of need. Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We specialize in real estate law, landlord-tenant disputes, immigration, and wills & estate planning. Family is at the core of our practice. Just as we treat our family with respect and understanding, we treat yours. Come join the Kazi Law Firm family today!

Why swim alone in shark-infested waters when you don’t need to?