Life, Death and a Merry Christmas

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Christmas is all about family. It’s a time to get together, indulge in good food, a few drinks and swap stories about the year that’s been.

And it’s also an ideal time to talk about death. Or more specifically, estate planning.

While it may not seem like the ideal topic to bring up between carving the turkey and passing round the potato salad, speaking with your family about what will happen to your body at the end of your life or your assets once you die is important.

And given Christmas may be one of the few times during the year when the whole family is together, it’s a good time to arrange a discussion about your plans. This is particularly important if your situation has changed during the year, or since your Will was last updated.

By outlining your wishes in advance, you can avoid nasty surprises and bitter arguments later on.

Talking about your plans

Raising the topic of your death or incapacity can be difficult at the best of times, let alone during the heightened emotions that often come with Christmas. But, discussing your estate planning doesn’t need to take hours and you don’t need to go into minute detail about who gets exactly what in your Will.

Instead, focus on the key elements of your estate planning, such as where you keep your important documents and what will happen in the event you become incapacitated.

However, it’s best not to spring new responsibilities onto your children or family members in a group setting. If you plan to make someone the executor or your Will or guardian of your children, you should to speak with them in private beforehand to ensure they are comfortable with your decision and what is required of them.

Then arrange to sit down with the important people in your life and outline your plans in a heartfelt and open way. Remember, while some people may want to voice their opinions about your plans, you should also remind them that these are your wishes and your decision is final.

Of course, while sharing your plans with your family is important, the best way to ensure your wishes are carried out is by creating a legally valid Will and Enduring Power of Attorney.

When to review your Will

You may not have time to arrange your Will in the hectic weeks leading up to Christmas. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start putting things in place to bring it up to date.

Make an appointment with a lawyer for the new year so you can start getting prepared now.

It can be helpful to write down the names of who you would like to include in your Will, along with your assets and any other considerations you want to discuss with your lawyer. It’s also a good idea to think about whether you have particular wishes about medical treatment at the end of your life or about your funeral. Use the time over the break to gather together all your important financial information and other documents, including your current Will and Enduring Power of Attorney.

Consider your legacy

Finally, the holidays are a good time to consider what things, beyond your assets, you want to leave your children and loved ones. While Christmas can be hectic, it’s also a time to reflect on what’s truly important to us.

Use this time to create memories that will last beyond the Christmas leftovers. Perhaps you could arrange a photographer to take photos of everyone together, create a video diary of stories from your childhood, or write down your favourite recipes to share with your family. These are the inheritances that are truly treasured by our loved ones.

One of the best gifts you can give your family is peace of mind. DDCS Lawyers can help with more than just creating a Will. Our expert team can provide you with specialist advice for your circumstances to ensure your estate is administered correctly. Call our team on (02) 6212 7600 to make an appointment.