I’ve noticed that many people approach estate planning from the outside in, rather from the insideout. For example, many people want to “avoid probate” or “minimize tax” as a primary goal — good goals, for sure. If we stop there, we miss the opportunity to explore the deeper meaning underlying these goals, such as ensuring that we provide our loved ones as much as we can with assets to supplement their lives, and provide each of them the opportunity to grow, and develop and enjoy the most meaningful life possible.
Take the family home, for example. Often, people want to make sure that their children “get the house equally.” Without exploring underlying values and prioritizing concerns, we may not get to the deeper meaning such as: that they love their children equally; that they want to ensure that each of their children has a place to live; and that they want their children to get along and support each other. In prioritizing these concerns, they find that their children getting along with each other is the most important hope or goal of all.
Understanding this, the attorney can add provisions to ensure that the children don’t fight over the family home.
When we take the time to explore our values with the guidance of a skilled estate planner, we can mirror and reflect our deepest values, and can gain true peace of mind to know that our intentions will be clearly spoken — when we can no longer speak.