The Importance of Estate Planning
A Tale of Two Clients:
A Cautionary Tale about the Importance of Estate Planning
In my experience, establishing an estate plan is often described by clients as that elusive task that’s been on their to-do list for too long – until, that is, some external catalyst prompted them to action. There are a multitude of life events that can lead people to establish or reevaluate their estate plan; however, it’s interesting that one of these life events actually has both a “positive” motivator and a “negative” motivator. The event: the loss of a loved one. And so we have, “A Tale of Two Clients”.
The Age of Wisdom…
The positive motivator stems from the wise decedent who had their affairs in order and made the process of managing their estate both seamless and efficient for their family. The family may say how grateful they were that their loved one had planned so carefully and that they had taken the time to make sure that nothing was left unaccounted for. They were so thankful that in a time of great sadness and loss, they had not been further burdened by sorting out a mess of finances, insurance, tax troubles, or family conflict arguing over who knew the decedent’s wishes best. They express what we have always known and tried to convey: that estate planning is so much more about your loved ones than it is about you; it is a gift, and these types of clients recognize that once they’d been on the receiving end. Now, they wanted to be sure to leave the same loving legacy to their family.
The Age of Foolishness…
The negative motivator is born out of the fallout that comes from the foolish decedent who had nothing in order – no Will, poor record keeping, no plan for providing for dependents, etc. The ensuing stress, family strife, angst, expense and lost time that result were the cause of some kind of devastation. The devastation might have been emotional, physical, financial, or relational; it might have been all of the above. Inevitably, these types of clients will tell us that they never want their loved ones to go through what they have just experienced. As if enduring the loss and ensuing grief wasn’t enough, they were thrust into one of the most stressful processes they’d ever encountered. Now that they’ve been on the receiving end of poor planning, they understand the gift of good planning like never before.
What tale will your family tell when you’re gone?