Estate planning – what exactly does that mean? Most people are vaguely aware that there is a magical document out there called a “Will”. Some people even have a grandiose picture in their mind that when they are on their death bed, they will dictate their Will to their lifelong friend and personal attorney. (Because we all have that, right??) And then after their death, their family will all sit together in suspense in a library filled with leather-bound books to find out what they have inherited as the attorney reads the Will. Other people might have had a friend of a friend in college who people referred to (behind their back, of course) as a “trust fund baby,” but they don’t really know what that means – they just know it doesn’t apply to them and they have no interest in learning more about it. Obviously a Trust is some incredibly complicated and mythical creature that is only available or appropriate for the uber-wealthy, so why bother?
Now, onto my own misconceptions and confessions…… I procrastinated my own estate plan for years! Yes, years….. Even as an attorney, I wasn’t really aware of or educated on the importance of that all-encompassing set of documents known as your estate plan. The general public often thinks that all attorneys know about all areas of the law, but this is very far from the truth. Attorneys typically tend to specialize in one, two, or a handful of areas of the law and anything falling outside of that arena can be like reading a foreign language. Throughout my career, I have practiced criminal law, family law, workers’ compensation; I have worked as in-house counsel for a large corporation; I even sold residential real estate as a real estate broker.
During those years, I never had much interaction with estate planning. So I held the common misconception that it was more for elderly people or people with very large estates – isn’t that what most people think? From my point of view, estate planning didn’t apply to me because I was young and healthy and I certainly didn’t have any “estate” to speak of!
And then I became a mom and estate planning took on a different context…. But then life got busy. And I knew we maybe needed to “do something” but it was hard to make time for things I wanted to do, much less for something as grim and unpleasant as thinking about “my early demise”…… (Because that’s what it’s all about, right? Or is it??) And so I procrastinated….. And procrastinated….. Then I had my SECOND baby and still had no plan in place…..
When my husband and I FINALLY got all of our documents in place, I must admit there was a sense of relief that I didn’t anticipate. Although I had known for a long time that we needed to address these issues and those thoughts were always lingering somewhere in the back of my mind, I didn’t really realize how much it was weighing on me until we got everything done. Now, I feel totally at peace and assured that my family and assets will be protected no matter what happens. Because procrastination was a part of my own story, I am well-equipped to guide you through the process if you feel like you have been pushing it off for too long. I promise to make the experience an enjoyable and life-affirming one (as one client recently described the process – no lie!) Let me be that lifelong friend and personal attorney in your story.