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Talking to Your Family About Your Estate Plan During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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If you think that planning to get together with your family during the holidays is stressful, the usual holiday stress has nothing on the conflicts and hurt feelings that can arise when deciding to travel, or deciding not to travel, during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Whether you are itching to see your grandchildren open their Christmas gifts in person but your children dread the thought of you getting on a plane before getting a COVID-19 vaccine, or whether you have all made peace with the impossibility of traveling this year, this year’s holiday season feelings of loneliness and guilt are on a whole new level.  While, this year, you might not be able to have a festive holiday gathering that will create a cheerful atmosphere to take the sting out of having difficult but honest conversations with your family about your estate plan, it is still possible to talk to your family this year, perhaps on video chat, about your estate plan and to keep the focus on life instead of on death.  The first person with whom to discuss your estate plan is your Central Florida estate planning lawyer.

Talking About Holiday Gifts Can Be a Gateway to Discussing Bigger Things

It helps to approach difficult conversations with a script, or at least a game plan.  Step one: agree with your daughter that it is not practical for you to visit at Thanksgiving or Christmas this year.  Step two: Reminisce about all the fun you had at previous holiday gatherings.  Step three: Tell your daughter that you still want to give her a gift this year, and mention the annual gift tax exclusion.  The annual gift tax exclusion is a rule that enables you to give cash gifts of up to $15,000 per year to as many people as you like; you pay no taxes on this money, and neither does the recipient.  Step four: Listen.  If your daughter decides to accept the gift, she has no obligation to tell you how she will use the money, but most likely, what she says during the conversation will tell you about her financial needs and values, or at least confirm what you knew about them.

Topics That Can Wait Until Next Year

No one needs more stress, worry, or existential dread this year than we already have.  If you are healthy, then focus on being thankful for your health.  A cash gift this year can bring reassurance for everyone.  For example, the fact that you can afford to give thousands of dollars as gifts means that you are financially secure.  If your daughter asks whether it would be better to save the money for your own care if you need it, you can reassure her that you already have a plan for that, and you can tell her about your plan in more detail, if you wish.  This year probably isn’t the time for talking about which sibling gets which decision-making power if you become incapacitated or who inherits which item of personal property.  This year focus on giving and on appreciating each other.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

The holidays can be bittersweet for elderly people, even without a pandemic, but a Tampa estate planning lawyer can help you use your resources to bring your family the greatest possible happiness.  Contact David Toback for help with your case.

 

Resource:

irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/frequently-asked-questions-on-gift-taxes#5

https://www.davidtobacklaw.com/when-the-will-conflicts-with-the-prenuptial-agreement/

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