I think that's how many people feel about setting up an estate plan. The idea of it can be just plain spooky, even if you know you'll get something good at the end. No one wants to think about their death, or having to meet with a lawyer, or spend money on something that's not fun.
Here are 5 tips to help you take the 'spook' out of estate planning, so you too can experience the 'candy' at the end of knowing your loved ones and assets are completely protected:
1. Change Your Mindset. Many people put off estate planning because they would rather not think about dying and feel that estate planning is actually a personal consent to their death. We get it! But the opposite result actually occurs when people set up their estate plan. Not only does it make them worry less about dying, it also provides them tremendous peace of mind so they can carry on with their daily lives knowing that everything is taken care of "just in case." So consider setting up an estate plan as consenting to peace of mind.
2. Do Your Research. Most big meetings, especially one as important as formalizing your wishes if something should happen to you, can bring a normal feeling of stress. One of the best things you can do to reduce anxiety is to feel prepared. There are a lot of great resources out there on estate planning and what you should consider. We personally provide our prospective clients with many helpful materials, including a copy of my book, Good Parent's Worry Great Parent's Plan, an overview of our estate planning process, things to consider in advance, and an attorney checklist they can use when interviewing estate planning attorneys to ensure they are asking the right questions. A little bit of research goes a whole long way in feeling confident about your planning.
3. Know Your Options. Estate planning can feel highly personal, which is why some people are reluctant to bring it up with friends when looking for a referral to a reputable estate planning attorney. Thankfully, with independent online review sites like YELP, Google, or AVVO, you can find out who your community trusts, and what the experiences have been with that attorney.
4. Don't Project. You don't need to decide now whether your hyper 7-year-old will eventually mellow out, or if your brother and sister-in-law's marriage will make it. A good estate plan builds in flexibility and should be adjusted as time goes on. Personally, we like the "3-year" rule when making important decisions like who would raise your kids or manage your money. The 3-year rule helps you evaluate your choices based on what makes the most sense now and for the next 3 years, knowing what you know now, with the idea you will adjust later on as needed. It helps take the pressure off in making long term decisions.
5. Have a Relationship. You should only get an estate plan from a law firm if you feel confident they will not just be there for you now, but for the years to come. Estate planning is typically not a one and done process, and you will need and want to continually turn to your trusted advisor as your life continues to change. It's critical to ask the law firm what their ongoing charges are, ongoing access to the attorney will be, and what happens if the lawyer retires, etc. Make sure you can count on your attorney for the years to come.
If you want to truly enjoy the process of setting up an estate plan without the 'spook', knowing you'll have the best state of the art legal protections for your family, with a warm and compassionate team at your side, now and for the years to come, we invite you to call Bonnie Johnson at the Meier Law Firm today at (949) 718-0420 and schedule a time for us to meet. We warmly welcome you to the firm and are here to support you now and always.