As Christmas approaches and every commercial promises happiness with the purchase of the advertiser’s product, the thought of gifts is inescapable. For some people, gifts are pure joy. They love to shop for them. They love to give them. They love to receive them. They never met a gift they didn’t like. However, as I write this on Black Friday, confused as to how one defines “Door Buster” or why I would want to participate in such an activity, I can recall lots of failed gifts.
In Probate and Estate Planning gifts fail for numerous reasons. Some people never communicate their desires appropriately. You have never heard “it’s the thought that counts” as a positive statement in my practice. We wouldn’t imagine blessing our grandchildren with help for their education by simply thinking about it, but people die or become disabled everyday without acting on their best intentions. What if instead of labeling and delivering your gifts this year you simply stuck the unmarked gift in a closet at your house or at your bank or brokerage house? As bizarre as that sounds, that’s what people do who fail to do estate planning.
Another way people fail at gifting is that they leave the wrong people in charge. Have you seen the Chevy ad where the people are asked to give an award to their most dependable friend? There is an anxious moment as they contemplate how not to hurt someone’s’ feelings, but you know they know who is the most dependable. How do you know the gifts will be delivered? Are you going to leave it up to the most aggressive survivor? The most desperate? Are you going to promote family harmony with a plan or create a free for all with the carnage that almost always ensues?
P.S. Is there a probate matter that you were going to seek advice about before the end of the year? Someone may be counting on you to help deliver their gifts!