Estate-planning attorneys offer three types of estate plans: the one-size-fits-all, default “state plan;” the standard “black and white” plan; or the “meaningful” estate plan.
If you do nothing, the State of Hawai‘i has the Guardianship and Probate Court, which is a plan for each Hawai‘i resident upon incapacity and death. The state also has the Table of Consanguinity, listing your beneficiaries — to decide who will be in charge of handling your estate.
The standard “black and white” estate plan carefully crafts legal documents, while focusing on avoiding probate and minimizing taxes. Most often, these plans resemble every other estate plan, with the lawyers focused mainly on the “form” of the plan.
People may believe that because they consulted a lawyer, everything is complete and will not cause undue stress or conflict when they die.
But the sad fact is that there is more trust litigation occurring now than ever before and fractures in family relationships appear to be on the rise.
The simple reason? When we provide the foundation of the estate plan, we focus on the “how to” and diminish the “why,” meaning our intentions, feelings and hopes for our loved ones. In other words, our “voice.”
The “meaningful” estate plan incorporates the client’s own voice in the foundation of the estate plan. Statistics show that not only are the client’s choices honored and respected, family relationships are stronger and family fights are fewer.
It’s not too late to start a plan that reflects your “whys”— for you and your loved ones.