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The holidays can be the time to discuss legacies, estate plans

Getting together with loved ones during the holiday season is something many people look forward to. Of course, many Minnesota families will beat the cold with a meal and gift giving. At the same time, the holidays can provide the perfect chance to have quality conversations with family members.

Many people might hesitate to discuss matters related to estate planning, since it could be considered too sensitive, but it's an important conversation nonetheless. Having all family members in one place can provide the venue to discuss the kind of legacy a person would like to leave behind, which is one of the primary goals that can be addressed with a last will and testament.

According to a survey conducted by a major life-insurance provider, 86 percent of baby boomers and 74 percent of Americans 72 or older believe that stories and family history are the "most important piece of their legacy." Not only that, but a majority of both groups say that heirlooms, not money, are critical to what they will leave behind. As such, estate planning can be geared to address these wishes.

In order to address the inheritance of family heirlooms, it may be helpful to include an itemized memorandum with a will. Even though wills may designate to whom property will (or won't) go to, it may be critical to address certain items -- especially if one particular family member has been told he or she will receive something. This way, beneficiaries will be clear about what to expect during estate administration and disputes can be avoided.

At the same time, the holidays can be a good time to share family stories and the kind of values a person hopes to pass onto future generations. These are the kinds of conversations everyone might intend to have, but never find time for.

As families consider having these conversations, they may also realize that estate planning is about the life a person has lived and the lives of subsequent generations. Knowing this, a person can ensure that his or her estate plan reflects the legacy that's appropriate for the entire family.

Source: MarketWatch, "Your heirs want this even more than your money," Andrea Coombes, Dec. 21, 2013

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Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates

Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates LLC
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