Holiday Time, Family Time, Conversation Time
It’s November and the start of the festive holiday season. This is the time that families of blood and love come together. We laugh and cook great meals. We catch up on what has happened since we were last together and share our excitement about our future together.
As we commune with our families this season, it is also an opportune time to discuss the important things that would be included in our estate plan. It is the time, for example, to review the changes you have made in the last year regarding relationships. Far too often there are significant changes in our health care that we don’t share with our loved ones. If you have been recently diagnosed with high blood pressure or pre-diabetes we should share that information with our family and close friends. This information should shape how we eat and play. My friends will tell you that I am the last person to ask questions about how to prepare food but as we look around we can see that there are many alternative ways to prepare food that we love, that can positively impact our health. Many of us spend a great deal of the gathering time in the kitchen because food is an important part of our celebration. But our knowledge of the health considerations of our loved ones should shape the offerings.
This is a conversation that can also lead to what health care decisions you would make if you were not able to communicate for yourself. This does not have to be a depressing conversation, but one that speaks to how you would define quality of life. The conversation would not condemn another’s perspective, but instead highlight what is important to you; it may be in contrast to a perspective you held previously.
Many people also see the holidays as a time to perform acts of service. This presents an opportunity to discuss values and giving. If you are a person who has historically given to your church, your alma mater or other charities, you can take this time to discuss your desire to continue to demonstrate the charitable values you cherish so dearly. This would also be a great time to discover if other family members share these goals which could justify the decision to establish a family foundation.
Family foundations are formed to institutionalize the gifting and philanthropic expectations of your fellow family members. We have all heard of the ‘big name’ family foundations such as the Gates and Ford Foundations. However, more and more people are creating Family Foundations with lesser means but nonetheless a strong commitment to philanthropy. Family Foundations are distinct, legal entities with the following benefits. They: a) contribute to a charitable cause and are tax deductible, while relinquishing personal control over your gift b) minimize your estate tax liability c) avoid capital gains tax on the sale of appreciated property contributed to the charity of your choice d) provide continuing employment and activity for your family members e) identify and preserve your family name for years to come.
Let’s celebrate the holidays this year as a joyful time to congregate with family and friends. But let us also incorporate purposeful conversation that includes our health status and our charitable values. These topics go hand-in-hand with the holiday themes of caring and sharing. In this spirit, we can accentuate our desires and coordinate our hopes with our loved ones as we plan for the future.
By: Aimee D. Griffin, Esq.
Featured Article in The Washington Informer – November 2016
Photo Credit: atlantahearingdoctor.com