Estate planning is one of the most crucial forms of planning that a person can do to protect themselves, their assets and their loved ones. However, it can be challenging to start this type of planning – statistics today from Merrill Lynch say even for those over fifty-five, less than 1 in 5 have done estate planning. It can be hard to face up to the fact that situations that will require these types of important documents could occur someday.
Nobody wants to think about when they might get sick and need others to control their health care decisions or finances or when they might pass away. However, by not planning for any of these circumstances; they are subjecting their loved ones to a legal and emotional nightmare. There are endless horror stories about people who spend countless hours in court and thousands of dollars after a loved one passes on and left no estate plan to offer directives. The question must be asked: “How can you help encourage those in your life to complete their estate plan?”
Mathew Dailly, Managing Director at Tiger Financial says “'As someone with a background in finance and real estate, I have managed to convince a lot of people to plan their estate. A lot of people, very nicely, have a lot of faith that once they pass on, things will just go smoothly. But as we all know, especially if you have a particularly large estate, it just does not go that way. The best way to encourage them is to talk about their family, and let them know that by doing this, you are taking a lot of stress and pressure off of them.”
The key to encouraging friends and family to begin or complete their estate plan is not to focus on it as a negative thing. These documents should not be associated with dying or situations that cripple families or friends. Rather, estate planning and related documents are the protection from the hardships that could occur should these situations arise and there are no legal documents in place.
Next, leading by example is something we often see people do at Gentreo. For instance, if you create your Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney and then share it through your Family Vault, that sets off the light bulb for others to take action when they now know you have done yours. Friends and family are often a great source of inspiration.
As a Founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, Paige Arnof-Fenn founded her company and then lived this first hand caring for aging parents. She helped her family and serves as an example for others. Paige reflects, “I started a global branding and marketing firm 19 years ago in Cambridge, MA. For the first 5 years I was scared to go on vacation for fear all my hard work would unravel. Then my in-laws, father, mom and stepdad all started to get sick and I wanted to be there for them. They all lived thousands of miles away so I started to work less. After years of decline they each died about 6 months apart (7 people in 6 years) and I became executrix which is like having another job at times. Their estate plans ranged from none to a trust with 19 amendments so my close friends were all inspired to get their affairs in order as they saw my experience from the front row. I updated my own plans too as a result of what I learned in the process.”
Help your family and friends understand that doing estate planning now is much more affordable than not doing estate planning.
David Reischer, Esq., Estate Planning Attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com, advises, “Many people are also under a misconception that drafting a will or setting up a trust is expensive. While it is true that setting up a complicated trust could be expensive, most estates are not that complicated and the average cost of planning for an estate after death will save the estate so much money in the long run that hiring an attorney for a couple of thousand dollars is actually very good value.”
Knowing that you are caring for the ones you love can be great inspiration too. Make sure your family doesn’t incur unexpected legal costs or is placed in emotional turmoil because you did not create an estate plan. Heath Goldman, President and CEO of Icon Wealth and Legacy Partners makes sure his clients know that, “Estate planning is about your family and slightly about honoring your own wishes.”
Lastly, make estate planning a celebration. Rejoice in the fact that by creating an estate plan you have taken a major step to protect your choices, your assets and most importantly, your loved ones. Lori Vella, an Estate Planning and Business Attorney in Florida and New York, LoriVella.com, says, “When we sign the documents, we call it a Signing Celebration and serve cake and, at times, champagne. It is a joyous and momentous event to do this type of planning for your family. People should congratulate themselves and acknowledge themselves. Most know about the need for estate planning but not as many do it. A celebration is in order!”
Start today, inspire others and make sure you protect all that you love!