Estate Planning Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

In Estate Planning, May 2018, Steward Articles by Richard Chamberlain

An effective estate plan allows you to make sure your assets are handled the way you want during your life and after your death. And contrary to popular belief, estate planning is more than just deciding who-gets-what when you pass away; it creates a custom roadmap for you and the future. While that sounds well and good, what happens if you don’t get around to crafting your plan before it’s too late? Simply put, you risk leaving behind a mess that will waste time and money, and could end up leaving your family in turmoil.

Over the years, I’ve heard many people share their belief that estate planning is “too complicated” or “too difficult” to undertake, so they put it off for later. Unfortunately, estate planning is one of those things that’s easy to defer because it’s often tied to thoughts of death, and who wants to dwell on that? So the healthy and relatively young often wait, pushing the task out to next quarter or next year before getting started. While human nature causes many of us to wait, the future isn’t guaranteed, and a disability or death can occur without warning.

As estate planning attorneys, we spend a lot of time and energy reminding people of their mortality so they’ll be motivated to get their planning in place. We’ve seen too many examples of estates gone awry because proper plans weren’t in order when they were needed. In light of this, we’ve done everything we can to make the process of putting plans into place as easy as possible.

To simplify and streamline the estate planning process, we’ve developed a 3-step approach to guide our clients toward meeting their objectives. Because of this focused approach, we often hear from families that the hardest part of getting through our process was simply deciding to get started.

Step 1 is Education. We teach about and discuss the issues involved in estate planning so that you can understand what’s at stake and how to best approach those issues. We’ve even recently made this step even easier by putting free webinars on our website that can be accessed at your convenience on your computer or device.

Step 2 is Design. This is where we help guide you through the issues and options specific to your situation and help you create a plan to meet all of your objectives. We use our experience and expertise to help you determine the best answers for all of the different questions that need to be addressed for your plan.

Step 3 is Implementation. In this step, we present your written plan to you for review and signature. If there’s a trust involved, then this step also includes funding of the trust, where ownership of assets and beneficiary designations are changed to coordinate with the planning to make sure everything will happen as planned.

While it’s still true that estate planning addresses some weighty issues and involves a lot of careful thought, following a tested process results in a higher quality outcome. Please don’t let your belief that estate planning is too complicated stand in the way of putting your house in order. Please don’t leave behind a mess for those you care most about, leave behind memories of love and laughter. Please.