More often than not, I spend my time caught up in the weeds of estate planning. Much of my writing and speaking about estate planning tends to focus on a specific topic: trusts, wills, asset alignment, etc. However, every once in awhile, I am reminded of the why of it all. At Family Estate Planning Law Group, we constantly return to the concept of “taking care of families”. It is easy to forget what you are actually doing as the mountains of paperwork requiring your signature pile up, as you get into the minutia of it all. However, when one takes a step back and remembers what they are working hard to protect, all of the details suddenly become a lot more clear. There are two big concepts that come into play when it comes to your estate plan:
1) Your legacy.
2) Taking care of your family.
Let’s talk about legacy.
Think about everything you own at this very moment. Bank accounts? Investment and Retirement Accounts? A house? A business? Think about what it took to possess all of these things. I’d venture to guess that you worked hard, for a long time, to get where you are. I’d guess that you may have poured actual blood, sweat, and tears into some of these things. Estate planning is so much more than just leaving your shoes and socks to your family and friends after you’re gone. Estate planning is protecting what you’ve worked your whole life to build, to serve as a foundation for the ones you leave behind. Your legacy after you’re gone. This leads us into big topic #2.
Taking care of your family.
It’s not pleasant to think and prepare for the worst. However, it is necessary as an individual who cares for their family. A friend of mine’s father unfortunately had an untimely death in his mid-forties, while she was still in elementary school. One of six children, her father’s lack of estate planning led her and her sibling down an arduous path that took many years to recover from. If you have any dependents, whether children, or if you are the primary provider in any relationship, an estate plan is meant to protect those you rely on you and maximize what you leave behind for them. Nothing can replace your presence, but amid the grieving process, having to not worry about being provided for, or having a complicated probate or trust administration process makes all the difference.
When you feel bogged down with the stress of either starting or maintaining an estate plan, remember the bigger picture, the heart of estate planning.