“But in this world, nothing can be certain, except death and taxes.” –Ben Franklin.
Ben Franklin stated it clearly and factually. So why do most of us avoid discussing the two things that are certain to happen and are unavoidable? I get it…it is unpleasant to think of one’s death, and stressful thinking about taxes. Let us be honest, who wants to be the downer Debbie at a dinner party? Try discussing this topic with your child’s 4th grade class on career day—yup, I did!
Many of us practice Shavasana (Corpse Pose) in yoga. There are classes you can attend in which you practice dying (Barre Center of Buddhist Studies comes highly recommended). I would say, a lot of us are becoming more spiritually informed. We are getting healthier. We are making better food choices, exercising more and working with wellness coaches. We want to learn. We want to educate ourselves. The desire is there. However, significant mental blocks remain when it comes to estate planning. What can you do to undo these mental blocks?
First, I invite you to try adjusting your thoughts. The way you view life and the planning for illness and death can make a significant difference. While life is undeniably a temporary gift, you do not need to lose the power of choice at the end of your journey.
Second, ask questions. Estate planning is confusing as it plans for not only personal desires and choices but taxes too! There are many components to a solid estate plan. Let us be honest, life is sometimes messy and dealing with taxes can be even messier.
Third, find an attorney you trust and connect with. Ask friends, family members and colleagues for a referral. Interview the prospective attorney. Self-drafted estate plans have created overly taxed estates, confused survivors and increased business for trust and estates attorneys, such as myself. You and your loved ones deserve a comprehensive and clear estate plan drafted by a professional. Investing in the future will create peace of mind for yourself and clarity for those who love you.
Estate planning is about planning for yourself and for the ones you love. Estate planning is about choice. Estate planning is effective, efficient and controlled. It allows YOU to take control of what happens to you and your assets in the situation of mental impairment or death and creates stability for the ones that care for you. Estate planning is not only for the “wealthy.” Everyone should have an estate plan, even young adults leaving for college.
Katherine A. Southard, Esq.