Thanksgiving is such a special time of gathering with loved ones. If I close my eyes and think back to my childhood, I hear the laughter of my cousins ringing through my Grammy’s house; I see generations of women coming together in the kitchen to make a beautiful meal out of tradition; I smell the oven opening to baste the turkey and the sweet cinnamon of apple pie. If your Thanksgiving is anything like mine, it is a time for family to assemble from all over — perhaps the only time you’re all together — to cram in around formal tables, kids’ tables, and card tables, and to be present and grateful. In today’s world, with family spread across the globe and various time zones, what a gift it is to all be in one place. And what a meaningful time to talk about more than just turkey.
If you consult any estate planning attorney, they will tell you what a joy it is to work with clients who have already put in some of the hard work when it comes to creating an estate plan. This doesn’t mean that they’ve written anything down. It’s simply that these clients have discussed their intentions with family members, they have asked difficult questions about the future, and they have had time to be thoughtful and deliberate about what they want before the attorney even begins the drafting process. This is the emotional groundwork for a solid estate plan, where many decisions must be made.
Now perhaps you’re thinking this all sounds a bit heavy for the holidays; Thanksgiving is a time to kick back and enjoy, to eat heavy while keeping everything else light. I would suggest a middle ground: it is possible to relish this special time of gathering and spend a bit of time talking about intentions. Maybe you limit the conversation to an hour and it’s an annual touchpoint; maybe you decide with your family that everyone is going to provide a quick estate planning update, but by the time dinner is on the table, the conversation is over until next year. Whatever you decide, an open dialogue begins meaningful discussion around growing and changing family dynamics, aging family members, guardians for minor children, etc. Simply beginning the chat sparks future conversations and ensures that the people you love most are not only at the same table, but on the same page.
Gratitude and estate planning go hand in hand. Having your affairs in order is an expression of love and gratitude for your family. And when it's rare for everyone to come together, the holidays make it even more optimal to address the important things. So, this Thanksgiving, talk about estate planning. Between stuffing our faces, waking up from our tryptophan-induced turkey naps, and Black Friday doorbusters, let’s vow to talk more than turkey. Gobble gobble.
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