If you ask your friends if they have a Will, many will say, “I know I need to do one, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.” For those among us who have lived through relatives or loved ones dying without a Will, sad stories abound full of heartache and loss. Yet many who do not have an estate plan in place still believe this will never happen to them. The good news is that there are creative and fun ways to get people to plan and even celebrate all they have worked so hard for throughout their lives.
At Gentreo, we often see that if one family member creates even a Health Care Proxy and then invites their family or friends to have access to this document through their Gentreo Digital Family Vault, this inspires other family members to start their Wills, Health Care Proxies and more, too. It’s a terrific chain of events. Having the feeling of being protected in the case of a crisis situation is a huge weight off your shoulders, and often people want to share that feeling with their loved ones by helping them to prepare as well. At Gentreo we make estate planning simple and easy to accomplish.
Heather Hazelwood is an estate planning attorney in Durham, North Carolina. Hew law firm, Ampersand Law, focuses on estate planning. Heather says, “my goal is to “unstuck estate planning” by demystifying the process and showing how it doesn’t have to be opaque, confusing, stressful, time-consuming, and/or unreasonably expensive.” The hardest part for many people is to start. Heather suggests “using the buddy system, having an accountability partner,” to help encourage people to get started with Wills or estate planning. Having someone hold you accountable to completing this important process is a great idea. You can set goals and deadlines. Heather also suggests “breaking it into steps/parts so the overall process doesn’t seem so daunting.” It is often common for families to start estate planning documents and need to revisit them multiple times as these are sometimes tough decisions. Also, you need to revisit your estate planning documents as your needs and circumstances change.
Lori Vella, an Estate Planning and Business Attorney, created “courses and workshops to help people learn more at their own pace. It is all about awareness and feeling comfortable knowing that I, not only as an attorney but as a parent, will help them plan as if I’m planning for my own family.” Lori wants to get people talking about this important issue and to do so says, “I create polls on social media and do live videos.” Engagement and education can really help get people motivated in the estate planning process. This makes the feeling of completing your estate plan and having the relief of knowing you and your legacy are protected so much better.
Lori says, “I absolutely love estate planning. It is not morbid to me. It is pure love. I’m excited to do it each day and I look forward to the opportunity to creatively plan with my client. This isn’t just “will-writing.” Estate planning is putting together your goals, desires, hopes, family and assets and creating a plan for them. You create the plan so things go more smoothly for your family and you do not have to leave these tasks to someone else to figure out.”
CEO of Credit Repair Companies, Andrew Roderick says, “Some people are scared to write one as the idea of death becomes real. I think the best way is to just talk it over, don’t encourage anything to be written in stone. But this doesn’t have to be a sad thing. Running it by what you would like each person to have and why can be a nice thing to air, even if it’s giving an ornament to your family or something to a neighbor, it can be nice just to hear why. There could be ways to creatively make a Will, maybe in a video format. Though it is likely you will need a written version, a video could be made alongside it so your family can engage rather than read a piece of paper. The video itself could also be a kind of gift that people can hold onto.”
Last, find the motivation and educate others! Laura French, The Mom Lawyer and Founder of French Law Group in Watkinsville, Georgia, focuses exclusively on estate and related business planning. Laura says that, “Every person I work with has her own unique motivation to do a will, trust, or powers of attorney. I have used some creative ways to educate and motivate people to do their estate planning. For example, few people understand the legal process that takes place when someone does with a will or without one. But, most people are hesitant, if not scared, to even approach the topic. Teaching people the fundamental issues in estate planning, the impact of this choice, that choice, or inaction, tends to motivate people to plan. People are generally concerned about costs, so we have a creative fixed pricing model that encourages people to get it done.”
With Gentreo, estate planning is affordable and easy to do. Talk it over. Celebrate your life and the ones you love. The next time someone asks you if you have a Will, you can say, “I have one. Do you have yours? What are you going to do about that? Let me help you.”