- Travel to your parents’ house by plane, train or automobile?
- Drive to your loved ones home for dinner across town?
- Stay home and prepare dinner and they will all show up?
However you intend to arrive for Thanksgiving dinner, this time of year brings many folks together that otherwise would only see one another for special occasions: weddings, funerals, graduations, family reunions and other momentous events.
Now that everyone has gathered for dinner, what are the conversations like around the table? For many, the atmosphere is usually polite with sanitized exchanges of niceties between family members who gather to partake in the epicurean delights of the day.
So what does the idea of Table Talk mean to you?
- Recounting the details of your grandfather’s war stories?
- Asking questions about the recipe for the new macaroni and cheese dish with five varieties of gourmet cheese?
- Commending your son or daughter on the new job promotion?
- Praising the grandchildren for their great scores on the SAT or the terrific job of acting in the school play?
Whatever terms you use to describe Table Talk, they all have their place. Now let’s think about the other topics that deserve some airtime too.
3 ways to deal with Table Talk this Thanksgiving:
1. Communicate with your loved ones what your healthcare treatment preferences are. Let them know if you have documents in place such as an Advance Directive that includes: a Power of Attorney for Healthcare, in which you have named an individual to act on your behalf regarding medical/healthcare matters; and, a Living Will that indicates the type of treatment you want to receive in case of a serious illness.
2. Provide your family members with information about where your important documents are kept. It is most unfortunate when a person gets sick, suffers a debilitating injury or death, and family members have no clue where to start looking for estate planning documents (Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Advance Directives, etc.). The amount of time spent on fruitless searches for documents that either do not exist or are in a safe deposit box that only the owner had access to is extremely frustrating and time-consuming.
3. Recognize that being secretive may work in some situations, but it doesn’t work so well when it comes to estate planning. If you are the holder of an old family saga that needs to remain buried in silence, then by all means keep that one to yourself. On the other hand, keeping quiet about where assets are located can create huge problems for loved ones trying to pick up the pieces of your life should you become incapacitated or upon your death. Many families have to go on wild goose chases trying to track down assets that are scattered throughout various insurance companies, banks and other financial institutions. Such a journey can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Not to mention the possibility of assets/policies lapsing or decreasing in value due to nonpayment or inactivity because no one other than you knew of their existence.
The ideas above should be based on your circumstances. Not all Table Talk is appropriate for every family member to hear. Some people are not mature enough to digest or handle such information. The trustworthiness of those at the table deserves consideration as well. No one knows your family better than you do. Thus, if such topics of conversation are hot buttons that will erupt in discord or create hostility around the dinner table, then use your judgment, and do what is best for your situation. Although, these ideas are important and deserve some discussion, you may need to come up with a more appropriate way to handle Table Talk with your family.
Here’s to a great Thanksgiving with lots of delicious food, and a healthy dish of Table Talk.
Aquanetta J. Betts is an attorney, speaker and blogger. She is licensed in the District of Columbia and Maryland. For more information visit www.abettslaw.com. Connect with Aquanetta J. Betts, Esq., on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.
The intent of this post is for informational purposes only. No legal advice has been provided.