family talking during holiday party

Starting (and Finishing) Tough Conversations this Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, but it can also be a time of difficult conversations. This year, don’t shy away from talking about important topics such as family law, estate planning, wills and testaments, and other legal matters that can have a lasting impact on your loved ones. Instead, embrace the opportunity to start (and finish) these conversations now and make sure that you and your family are on the same page when it comes to managing your legal affairs. In this blog post, we will provide you with tips and advice on how to tackle these tough conversations this holiday season.

The Value of Having Tough Conversations

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and fun. But the festivities can also bring up sensitive and uncomfortable topics that may be difficult to talk about. While no one wants to kill the holly-jolly mood, it’s important to remember that such conversations can have lasting positive impacts on your relationships and peace of mind.

Legal conversations such as family law, estate planning, and wills and testaments can be extremely important to discuss during the holiday season. These topics are often coupled with many emotions, so having these conversations in a relaxed setting can help to make them easier. Not to mention that these conversations can encourage family members to be proactive about their plans in the coming year.

What Conversations Might Arise?

When family members come together after being apart during the year, looming conversations can arise that require special consideration and preparation.

While it may be tempting to avoid talking about delicate topics such as legal matters or finances, having these conversations can provide important information to your loved ones and ensure that important issues are discussed and resolved. Here are some conversations you might want to consider having this holiday season.

Legal Conversations: If you have children, it’s a good idea to discuss their legal rights and responsibilities, such as what documents they need in order to make decisions on their own behalf. It’s also a good time to review any powers of attorney you may have in place for each other.

Family Law: If you are divorced or separated from your former partner, it’s important to discuss the arrangements in place for the custody of your children or the division of assets. If you have recently gotten married or remarried, it’s essential to talk about how any existing custody arrangements will be affected by your new relationship.

Estate Planning: Estate planning is an important but often overlooked topic. This holiday season is an ideal time to talk to your family members about how their assets will be distributed after they pass away. Make sure to address any issues with respect to wills and trust documents.

These conversations may be uncomfortable, but they are vital for ensuring that you and your family have a peaceful and prosperous holiday season. So take some time this holiday season to start – and finish – the toughest conversations.

How To Address the Elephant in the Room

It can be difficult to know when and how to bring up sensitive topics like estate planning, wills and end-of-life care during the holidays. After all, it’s the time of year for celebration, not for complicated conversations about the future. But with the New Year fast approaching, now is the perfect time to start having those conversations with your family.

See these conversations as opportunities to prepare and gain peace of mind so when the time comes, you will be ready. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Choose an appropriate place and time. Don’t try to bring up these topics during a big family gathering or during a casual dinner. It’s best to find a private moment to discuss sensitive matters and make sure everyone is comfortable and willing to talk.


  1. Set the tone. Let everyone know that this conversation is meant to be constructive and helpful, not accusatory or judgmental. You want everyone to feel safe in discussing their concerns without fear of criticism or consequences.


  1. Keep the conversation on track. Remind everyone of why you’re having this conversation, and make sure the conversation stays focused on the subject at hand. This is especially important if emotions start running high or someone begins to veer off-topic.


  1. Ask questions and listen. Let everyone have their say without judgment, and ask questions to ensure that everyone has a chance to speak. Listening is one of the most important skills when having difficult conversations, so make sure you take the time to really hear what everyone is saying.


  1. Reach an agreement. It’s best to reach an agreement together so that everyone feels heard and respected. This might include making changes or amendments to wills or other documents, or even deciding that further conversations are needed at a later date.

By taking the time to prepare yourself and set the right tone, you can have productive conversations with your family this holiday season about family law, estate planning and wills and testaments – and start the new year off on the right foot!

…And to All a Good Night

Taking the time to have important conversations will leave you and your family with a clear direction on how to handle family affairs. Bringing up these topics won’t make you a Grinch. In fact, you can be the hero of Whoville by ensuring many more joyful holiday seasons in the future.

Once you’ve had the conversations you needed to have, contact the attorneys at Lowthorp Richards to assist in getting your affairs in order. We have experience in all areas of family, estate and trust law that can help make the next steps easier. Contact us at (805) 981-8555 or fill out our online contact form. We operate primarily in the Tri-Counties area  – Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo.

NOTE: The information contained herein is not intended to be legal advice and the reader should know that no Attorney-Client relationship or privilege is formed by the posting or reading of this article which is also not intended to solicit business.

Cristian R. Arrieta, Lowthorp Richards McMillan Miller & Templeman, A Professional Corporation, 300 E. Esplanade Drive Suite 850, Oxnard, CA 93036