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Tips for a holiday estate planning talk with your kids

The Christmas holidays are one of the few times of the year -- if not the only time -- that parents are together with all of their adult children. That can make it an optimal time to discuss your estate plans with them.

Many people balk at doing this over the holidays because they don't want to dampen a joyous occasion and create conflict that will carry through the visit. However, if done properly, you can have these important discussions and still have a happy holiday.

Here are some important things to remember:

-- Arrange a time and place where you won't be interrupted. Allow plenty of time for discussion, questions and concerns.

-- It's preferable to meet with all of your kids together, if possible, so that everyone is hearing the same thing.

-- Estate planning discussions should be between you and your kids only. Their spouses and other family members shouldn't be involved unless, for example, they have a vested interest in the family business.

-- Encourage your kids to speak out and let you know how they feel about the decisions you've made or are considering. For example, maybe you have one child in mind to administer the estate or be your health care power of attorney, but he or she may not want that responsibility.

-- If you're not dividing your estate equally among your kids, be prepared to explain your reasons. Discuss your practical considerations rather than personal judgments about them.

-- Take the time to talk about the legacy you'd like to leave, including the values and work you'd like them to carry on after you're gone.

Remember that this likely won't be a "one and done" discussion. Your kids may want time to consider some of the issues you've brought up, or things may occur to them later. Some of your plans may also change considerably after speaking with your kids. However, this will at least be a good starting point as you begin working with your North Carolina estate planning attorney.

Source: Farm & Livestock Directory, "Are the Holidays a Bad Time to Discuss Estate Planning With the Kids?," accessed Dec. 12, 2016

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