Thanksgiving Preparations

thanks2016The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday requires quite a bit of planning.  We are not speaking merely about creating the menu, shopping for the required ingredients and preparing the delicious food.  Rather, we wish to call attention to those who will be sharing the holiday with you and the legal issues that may arise.

Our readers should consider those people who will be at the dinner table with them.  These people are likely to be relatives, some of whom may be able to inherit your estate from you if you die without a Will.  Should this result be inconsistent with your wishes, we suggest that you contact a qualified attorney and arrange for your wishes to be documented in a Will and other associated estate documents.  Also, consider the legal issues that arise should you be sharing the holiday with a step-parent.  In addition, it may be prudent to think about those from whom you may inherit, such as your parents, to address whether they have made the proper estate plans to legally include you.

Observe the items that are on the Thanksgiving table and throughout the home.  Is the valuable sterling silver flatware being used in the celebration?  Personal property also needs to be addressed in estate documents and should be safeguarded, so as to prevent it from landing into the wrong hands.   Should a family member’s estate already be in the administration or probate process, you may need to be prepared to sort through family items and manage who should take such items with them.  Perhaps you may want to encourage your relatives to part with some of their valuable personal property now, so as to potentially save on gift and estate taxes at a later time.

Are you celebrating the holiday with relatives and friends that you trust and admire?  If so, you may consider appointing them as executors of your estate and as guardians of your children.  It may be a good idea to take such trusted persons aside during the holiday and ask them if they are willing to serve in these fiduciary positions, prior to having your attorney  draft the necessary legal documents.

Although we hope that this is not the case, holidays can remind some people that they do not get along with their family.  It is possible that several members of a family may jointly own real estate.  If this is the case, you may decide to engage the services of an attorney to commence a partition case after the holiday.  That way, you will not be forced to own the property along with a family member with whom you disagree.

We wish our readers a happy and healthy holiday season and remain available to assist you with legal matters that may have arisen during Thanksgiving.