Everyone has an Estate Plan… (Even You!)
Whenever I speak to groups of people (which seems to be happening more and more often) the first question I always ask is, “who here has an estate plan in place?”
Typically about forty percent of the room raises their hands.
And then I do something a little strange. I make everyone raise their hand.
I do this to point out that we all have an estate plan, even if we haven’t personally created one yet.
The difference between the first group of people that raised their hands and the second is that the first group has taken control over their plan, and the second group has left their plan up to a judge.
That might seem a little scary, and it should.
If you don’t choose the guardians of your children, a judge will choose for you. If you don’t identify someone to help you take care of your financial decisions should you become disabled, a judge will appoint that person for you (at great expense, I might add).
But there’s a lot more than just fear of having a judge determine the fate of your family at stake here.
By failing to create your own estate plan you are missing out on the opportunity to shape future generations of your family. You are missing out on the opportunity to archive and share your traditions, your stories, and your values with future generations.
You are missing out on the opportunity to create legacy.
A lot of people put off thinking about and creating an estate plan because they are uncomfortable at the thought of a world without them. They believe if they plan for the inevitable (believe it or not, we are all going to die) that it will happen sooner than it would have otherwise.
But what if you considered approaching estate planning from an aspirational perspective? What if you saw estate planning as a way to exert influence and lead your family after you are gone?
Whenever I think about legacy and my own family (I have three kids) I imagine what it would be like to create a family dynamic like the Kennedy’s. If you’ve read any of the books written on that family, they have done an extraordinary job of helping each successive generation of the family continue the success of the one before it.
Estate planning can help you do that. It is the first step toward creating a legacy that lasts multiple generations.
The only question is, are you going to be the one that determines your family legacy, or are you going to leave it up to a judge?
P.S. Do you have kids? Have you completed guardianship paperwork? Have you done it correctly? Click here to find out what happens if you don’t do anything: Are you okay with a judge choosing the guardians of your children?
P.P.S. Do you own a business? Do you have a plan so the business, and your family, can survive if something happens to you? If not, click here to learn how simple it is to protect your business and your family from tragedy: 5 Ways to Protect Your Business from Catastrophic Failure.
P.P.P.S. Do you have no kids and think you don’t need an estate plan? Single and think a will is only for married couples. You couldn’t be more wrong. Click here to learn more: 5 reasons estate planning is a must have even if you don’t have kids.
Christopher Small is a Seattle estate planning attorney who helps people get rich and live forever. He is also the owner of CMS Law Firm LLC.