The Covid-19 crisis has motivated many people to undertake their legal estate planning. Everyone knows they need a Will. Most people even know they should have a Power of Attorney. Having these basic, but necessary, estate planning tools is required, but it is a far cry from good estate planning.
Just because you have a driver’s licence, does that mean you are a good driver?
Just because you have a Will and Powers of Attorney, does that mean you have a good estate plan?
Successful estate planning has two important hallmarks:
- it includes much more documentation than just the basic legal tools;
- it is a mindset of committing to ongoing maintenance, review, documentation, and communication.
The legal documents provide legal direction, but they rarely address anything practical. (ie. here’s a list of my assets). Nor do they do so with any heart, voice, or emotion (ie. “here is the purpose of this gift and what it is intended to accomplish”). Good Estate Planning includes addressing the legal, practical, and emotional. Legal documents are only part of your story.
Ongoing commitment does not mean you need to change your Will every year. It does mean that you review your plan every year and communicate with the people involved. It means taking action to change your tools when they no longer fit your plan. It means creating new tools and having consistent, organized communication. It means writing stuff down. This is what needs to happen every year.
Focus on the experience that you want for yourself if your Powers of Attorney are needed. Focus on the experience that the people you leave behind have upon your death.
What are you doing to help yourself and your family have the experience you want them to have?
Ongoing education, practice, conscientiousness, and commitment will make you a good driver. It will also make for a much more complete and purposeful estate plan.