“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
-Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie
Let me ask you something:
Who do you love?
There’s probably a certain someone or several family members that come instantly to mind: a spouse or partner, children, siblings, or others. Maybe as you keep thinking on it, close friends start drifting into your thoughts. Take a minute to consider your family, blood-related or not. Who are they? When you see them in your mind’s eye, what about them brings a smile to your face?
Those people you love? Estate planning is about them.
With it, you have the opportunity to protect them, guide them, deepen your relationships with them, and hopefully, strengthen their ties to one another. We’ve seen a properly executed estate plan affect families in incredible ways time after time.
A father uses an estate plan to reach from the grave to pay his children’s college education.
A wife uses an estate plan to provide loving care for her disabled husband after she is gone.
Parents use an estate plan to reunite their adult children together after their deaths, by paying in advance for annual vacations.
A sister uses her estate plan to tell her estranged brother that she loves him one last time.
Grandparents use their estate plan to tell their grandchildren how much they loved them, long after they pass.
These are real outcomes that we’ve seen our clients accomplish, and they’re only the beginning.
Sure, an estate plan means putting technical legal documents in place. It means thinking about your money, and how to get it where it needs to go with minimum fuss and taxes.
But legal documents and money don’t mean a thing without the people you love.
Don’t get caught in the details of what kind of documents need to be drawn up or how the plan is going to work just yet. You and your estate planning attorney can address those things later, but they aren’t really the point. The legal documents are just tools that enable you to end well and do justice to the relationships that make your life worth living.
Use Your Imagination
“‘Everyone knows they’re going to die’ he said again, ‘but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.’”
– Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie
Envision for a moment how you want to leave those closest to you. Maybe you’ve never thought about it consciously, but I’m willing to bet you have hopes and dreams for what those goodbyes will look like, and how your existence will continue to affect people you love.
Do you want to
- ensure your spouse is taken care of?
- ease the interpersonal strain between yourself and a family member?
- guarantee that your loved ones and friends knew what was important to you?
- delight someone by leaving them something of yours they’ve always enjoyed?
- help your children or others pay off college debt, buy a house, or just start saving for retirement?
- tell your closest friends what they mean to you?
When you picture the end of your life, what do you want people to know about you? What do you want them to remember? What do you want them to do?
It could be a simple as knowing that you loved them or as complex as caring for a disabled loved one.
We challenge you to write your goals down right now.
Five Ways Relational Estate Planning Helps The People You Love
“Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time… It tells us to tell each other right now that we love each other.”
Now that you’ve gathered your thoughts about your end-of-life goals, let’s take a look at five ways relational estate planning can help your loved ones. You will probably find that your specific goals fall into one or more of these categories and, hopefully, they’ll bring some other specific goals to mind:
- Protect, provide and care for your loved ones: The first goal of your estate plan should be to make sure your loved ones are taken care of when you are gone. Of course, the amount of protection and care that is needed will depend on their specific situation.
- Help your loved ones avoid conflict: A huge percentage of families struggle with conflict after the passing of a loved one, and disputes about money make even good relationships fray. Your estate plan should be designed to create harmony, not conflict, and strengthen your familial relationships after you are gone.
- Leave them a legacy, financial or otherwise: You’ve lived, learned, felt, and done. A good estate plan communicates what you thought was important, sometimes in words, sometimes by action, and sometimes with money. What do you want to leave behind? What do you think others need to know? This is your legacy. Create a good estate plan to communicate it to your loved ones.
- Preserve their special memories with you: Life is shared memory. A good estate plan preserves those memories for your loved ones. When you take steps to preserve your memories with them, you do more than help them remember. You actually protect a piece of their story and identity, you help them grieve well, and give them a more tangible piece of who you were to carry with them.
- Ease their burdens related to your passing: Your death will be a complicated and challenging time for your close family and friends. Some of those challenges will be practical things, and others emotional, but there are steps you can take ahead of time to make their burdens easier to bear.
So, who do you love or care about? Estate planning is about them, about telling and showing them what they mean to you before the time comes to say goodbye, and then helping them once you pass away. Click here to request your free estate planning consultation, and get started on a plan to care for them well.