The time of year is coming up for holiday travel and family gatherings. Holiday travel frequently causes clients to make a desperate last minute call to my office to make estate plans. If the call comes very close to the holiday travel date, it may not be possible to get the documents drafted in time. Attorneys like to take time off to enjoy the holidays too.
Also, I’ve suggested before that holiday family gatherings are a perfect time to review your loved one’s estate planning. It may sound a bit morbid at first to think about such discussion over the holidays, but if your family plans to do this in advance, as a regular “check-up” while you are together, it becomes easier and will save much turmoil and expense in the long run.
The key here is that the loved one has already done estate planning before the holidays arrive. Just think about it! The holidays are prime travel time, when the likelihood of an accident is higher, and a number of family members might be traveling together. This could present special problems in dealing with incapacity or death of one or more loved ones in such an accident over a holiday. Lawyers are likely to be out of their offices over the holidays too, and finding one to help you in such a period may be more difficult than usual. If there had been no estate planning done in advance of such a tragic event, the situation is going to be much harder to deal with.
Ideally, the patriarch and matriarch of the family will have estate plans already in place that can be discussed and updated after family discussions over the holidays. Or, if the estate planning has not been done yet, the discussion will prompt these important family members to see an attorney as soon as possible to draw up the estate plans. If the need to draw up estate plans becomes apparent over the holidays, however, it will be difficult to schedule an appointment.
So, the better plan is to think ahead of the holidays and get your estate planning done in advance. You will be in a position to share with your loved ones what plans you have made. This will give you much greater peace of mind as you go into the holidays.