The Gift of Estate Planning

I was speaking to a couple of groups this week on the topic of “Why You Need an Estate Plan.”  There are many reasons that could be given as the rationale for engaging in estate planning.   Maybe you are interested in preserving family harmony; you have seen the discord that can be sown among children when no plan exists or a poor plan is implemented and want to avoid it.  Maybe you would like to see a gift to your favorite Charity as a way of giving back.  Other reasons why you need an estate plan might include:· Protecting and providing for your spouse and minor children.· Caring for a special needs child you are responsible for.· Avoid the difficulties and expense associated with probate.· Concerns with the estate tax.The list could go on and on.  Ostensibly for these reasons and others, people will prepare wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.  They will make their end of life wishes known in an advance health care directive or living will.  They will spend some of their hard earned money on life insurance.  Almost always, if I can discern the goals an individual or couple may have, the law will provide a way to accomplish those goals.However, as I thought more about this idea, these are all excellent reasons for why we need an estate plan.  But, they don’t really answer the question of “why we estate plan?”  I am convinced that in the end, we plan our estates as a gift to those we leave behind.  The reality is that when the plan is finally implemented there is a good chance the individual will be gone, well beyond the jurisdiction of the probate court or the IRS.  So much that what we do will not benefit us personally, but rather those who are left behind.  Estate planning is truly a gift; a selfless gift without personal benefit in the end.   As I consider the Christmas season which is now in full swing with thoughts of gifts being given and received, I am grateful for those Clients who have trusted us to help them with these selfless gifts to their family and loved ones.