The Holidays are Prime Time to Review Your Estate Plans! Here’s Why

While you might not associate estate planning with your winter holiday traditions, the end of the year is a great time to take a step back, reflect, and plan for the future. Estate planning is very important for individuals and families at all stages of life, not just towards the end. Although it might seem that thinking about your estate plan during your holiday festivities is a bit of a drag, estate planning is as much about life’s transitions as it is about its endings. So what is the best way to go about reviewing or starting your estate plan? And why are the winter holidays a good time to do it? Below we discuss what about your estate plan you should review around the holidays, whether you already have one in place or not.


  • Speak with your family members


With the whole family around, the holidays are the perfect opportunity to discuss your future plans. Although you may not need to speak to everyone, the built-in family time still provides the opportunity to get together and make a plan. This is particularly true for anyone that is elderly in your family, as it can be a rare opportunity to have them around to understand and discuss their future physical and emotional needs. Involving elderly parents or young children in important decisions, particularly those about care, is a positive way to involve the family and make sure that everyone is taken care of in the way that they would want for themselves.


  • Choose or adjust to a plan that suits you and your family best


There are many different documents and strategies that can be used to create the perfect estate plan for you and your family. Most people only think about needing a will or a trust to take care of their estate once they’ve already passed. But oftentimes, the need for a plan pops up earlier than expected. For example, if you have minor children, appointing a guardian in case something happens to you is an essential step to take regardless of how old or young you are. Failing to appoint a guardian in advance could lead your children to become a ward of the state or allow the court to choose someone who you would not want for the job. Of course, you can do this is in your will in the event of a worst case scenario. But you can also do this through living wills or directly with the courts using the guardianship documents required by your state.


  • Use your assets like gifts


Another way of thinking about all of this that ties in with the holidays is the idea of using your assets like you would gifts. By customizing who in your family gets what and why, you can make the experience positive and involve different members of your family. For example, your main assets can go to your spouse, children, parents, friends, or can even be donated to a cause that is meaningful to you. Throughout the planning process, it’s important to keep in mind that a single document might not cover all of your assets so it might be necessary to use a few different kinds. An experienced family law attorney can help you sort through everything to make sure your wishes are properly reflected in your overall plan.


  • Update Existing Planning Documents


Because the winter holiday season falls at the end of year, it makes it a great time to review the documents you already have in place to take into account any changes that have happened. Reviewing your plan is important, especially if there have been any major life events to occur since you created it such as getting married or having children. The end of the year brings us a natural period of closure and reflection, so if you haven’t revisited your will or plan in a while, the holidays are as good a time as any. This way can ring in the new year with a fresh start and the peace of mind you deserve.

Speak with an experienced estate and family law attorney.

Planning your estate and speaking with your family can lead to an emotionally charged situation. At Lake Cook Legal Solutions, we have the experience and compassion to help you get started or to review and update the estate plan you already have. If you have questions about your estate plan, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!  

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Written by Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions has been helping people throughout Lake, Cook, McHenry, and DuPage counties since 2012. We focus our practice on matters involving Illinois families—namely Family Law and Estate Planning.