Sure the holidays are a fun time for families to sit around talking about what happened on the latest episode of The Walking Dead or how granddaughter Mary is doing in dance class. But they are also a great time to have the important -- yet often difficult -- conversations about estate planning. What happens when Mom dies? Does anyone know where Dad kept his will? Did they ever transfer the investment accounts into their revocable living trust like they were supposed to?
Many families don't ask these tough questions ... especially when dynamics are strained, like in many second-marriage families or when siblings don't get along well. It certainly isn't easy to blurt out after passing the gravy, "Hey Dad, does your will put me or your wife in charge of your estate?"
But these conversations are important. When the proper estate planning isn't done, it's the family members left behind who pay the price, often with bitter, ugly, and costly probate court battles. They happen to families all across the country on a daily basis, from those of modest wealth to the very rich.