Greenwood | Finance Talks to Have With Your Family During The Holidays
Rianka R. Dorsainvil, CFP®
The end of the year is drawing closer, which means people are getting ready to celebrate the holidays. After a busy year, many families will finally be spending well-deserved quality time together. In addition to having fun, this could be a good time for important conversations, too. As hard as it is to think about, none of us know the last holiday we’ll spend with a loved one. So, now is the time to ask lingering questions and get clarity on things around your family origins, medical history, and finances. Getting answers to questions like whether your grandparents have a Will or if your great aunt has life insurance can save your family a lot of heartache when they pass away.
Here are some conversations to consider having around the dinner table, in-between Sunday night football, or after family banter.
When you visit the doctor, especially for the first time, they often ask you whether you have a history of any medical illnesses. Oftentimes, people answer to the best of their knowledge. Imagine being able to provide detailed information to your doctor so that they may provide you with direct and intentional care. If you’re at a loss for information, it may be a good idea to do some digging and find out your family’s medical history as far back as you can. During the holidays, consider asking the seniors in your family about any diseases or conditions their parents, great grandparents, or relatives may have had. For instance, you may learn that Alzheimer’s runs in your family, maybe sickle cell was common, which is relevant if you plan to have kids. This can be helpful information to know any inherent risk and what preventative measures to take.
Healthcare as a senior can be pricey, so planning ahead can also help if you’ll be at risk of any diseases as you age. The average retired couple aged 65 in 2022 may need about $315,000 after-tax dollars saved just to cover health care expenses in retirement according to the Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate.
That said, knowing health conditions you may be at risk of can help you potentially increase your chances of healthy aging. Assuming you do, you could end up saving chunks of money on healthcare in your senior years.
When someone passes, one of the hardest things next to dealing with grief can be trying to figure out whether they have estate documents and where to locate. Knowing your loved ones final wishes for their precious items and assets can make things easier and minimize confusion once they pass. Speak to your parents and grandparents about whether they have estate documents in place. Examples include:
Last will and testament: Outlines who gets your assets when you pass away, final arrangements, and lists guardians for minors or pets. Wills don’t take effect until you die.
Power of attorney: A legally binding document that enables you to appoint someone to make important decisions relating to your finances and health on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
Revocable living trust: Document that says when and how your assets are distributed when you die, but it goes into effect as soon as you sign it and fund the trust with your assets. It’s amenable while you’re alive.
Having the right estate documents in place can help surviving family members avoid probate, which is a process where the courts try to authenticate your will. Ultimately, they can determine what happens to the deceased’s assets if they don’t have a legally binding estate plan. If your loved ones do have estate documents, ask them where they keep the paperwork so it’s easily accessible when the time comes.