Working Wealthy – Prioritize Your Estate Plan

July 20, 2021

Maybe we should start calling estate planning something other than an estate plan. For some, it feels like an imposing name or phrase, an estate plan.

When I think of an estate, I think of the English countryside with rolling green manicured lawns and a stately mansion nestled in the middle of all the green.

A plan seems a bit less imposing, but it still sounds like something that has diagrams, elements that must happen, and instructions that need to be followed. It feels absolute and definitive.

Does any of this ring a bell when you think of your estate planning?

If either word or the term itself shuts you down, you are in good company. I’ve spoken to scores of clients, friends and family members that just don’t want to deal with it.

Whatever your definition is, I want to share 3 steps to start tackling it:

1. START – Understanding your priorities is the most thoughtful way to start your estate plan.

Forget about all the terminology, all the rules, all the noise—and start with what matters most to you. Is it your family? Perhaps it’s your wealth or financial well-being? It could even be something like the wish to not end up like other situations you’ve experienced—have you settled an estate before for a loved one and wished it was better organized?

There are any number of prompts to help you think about the personal nature of your priorities and what is truly important to you.

2. THINK – Setting your priorities will not happen in a 60-minute yoga session. It won’t happen after you’ve cut the lawn while you crack a beer and cool off. Set aside time, take a half-day on the weekend, whatever you need, but be sure to give yourself time to think.

And here’s the potentially bad news, you won’t just do this once. You’ll need a couple to a few sessions to give yourself the right space to prioritize.

3. ADAPT – I’ve said this before, but even after it’s drafted and executed, your estate plan is not written in stone unless you’ve already passed away or you’ve made irrevocable decisions (rely on your adept and skilled estate planning attorney to prevent you from doing this without knowingly doing so).

The same goes for your prioritization. It will change over time. Allow yourself the time and reflection to make changes as necessary.

As priorities change, you’ll have the opportunity to update your plan and make sure it corresponds to the most relevant circumstances. Remember to allow time and space for this as well.

Your estate plan is a big deal—don’t let the process of it overwhelm you. Focus on you first and what is most important to you. In the end, that’s all that matters.