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Florida estate planning during the holidays

Florida readers are probably aware that senior residents make up a significant portion of the population in South Florida. In fact, over 250,000 people who are 75 or older live in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, reflecting a 31 percent increase in the last 10 years. One aspect of life for many seniors in Florida is that the majority of their relatives live out of state. However, as the holidays roll around, family members come together in Florida to celebrate with their loved ones. Moreover, organizations that provide care and services to seniors have indicated that the holidays may be the most convenient time of year for families to sit down and discuss important estate planning issues.

While the idea of discussing end-of-life care may not be the most pleasant thing, a nationwide elder care organization says that inquiries for their services do increase just after the holidays. Often, when families arrive from out of state to visit with their elder loved ones, the relatives observe the reality of an elder's living situation, and the family members take action.

Indeed, the discussion of wills, probate, guardianships and other matters pertaining to estate planning may seem like strange talk for a holiday get-together. But there is no reason an estate planning discussion can't be managed in a relaxed and casual forum. A Florida magazine has suggested that families who are dealing with such matters can call an informal "board of directors" meeting to go over estate administration documents. Often, families who do this like to call the meeting before the festivities begin in order to take care of serious matters up front.

Though it is understandable that children aren't eager to converse with their parents about important end-of-life issues, a policy advisor with AARP points to polls showing that seniors are far more comfortable discussing end-of-life plans than their loved ones assume. One suggestion is to treat estate planning talks not as something morbid, but as fact-finding missions. Doing so can allow the discussion to go well for all family members involved.

Source: sunsentinel.com, "Using the holidays to check up on aging relatives," Diane C. Lade, Nov. 23, 2011

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