Legacy Planning Takes the Mystery Out of Your Estate Decisions

Legacy Planning Takes the Mystery Out of Your Estate Decisions

By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.

November 13, 2014

When you think about your estate and financial plans for during life and after you’ve passed, it’s likely that you want to ensure that your affairs are in order for your family. It’s about setting things up for them and making the transition as easy as possible. Enlist the help of knowledgeable professionals and you can bypass the default legal rules relating to probate and guardianship so that your loved ones never have to deal with the slow-moving bureaucracy involved and the financial and emotional burdens it often causes.

Unfortunately, even many of the most conscientious people tend to focus on the “what” and ignore the “why” when getting their house in order. You designate that your spouse gets the house and your retirement accounts. Your business is equally divided up amongst your daughters. Your son gets your collection of antique cars and records. You name your brother as personal representative (a/k/a executor in other states) and your oldest sister as your minor children’s guardian.

Actually making these decisions and memorializing them in a formal document is extremely important, and it’s likely that you’ve put a lot of thought into your plan. Just because you know why you’re naming your sister as guardian and your brother as personal representative (executor) doesn’t mean that they are aware of that. This is something that’s true across the board, and it’s not uncommon for loved ones to express confusion and hurt when they feel “slighted” by the substance of planning documents.

So, what can you do? Engage in legacy planning.

What Exactly Is Legacy Planning?

In general, legacy planning enables you to explain your decisions to your family and loved ones in your own words. Often this means creating a testamentary letter of intent or even a legacy video directed to your loved ones, which may include:

  • Communicating how much thought and care you put into making your decisions.
  • Explaining why you left things to specific individuals or named them to oversee tasks.
  • Giving your loved ones insight into what was important to you and what you stood for.
  • Sharing many of your favorite moments or memories.
  • Humanizing the necessarily formal documents that accompany estate planning.

The primary goal during estate planning is to ensure that your affairs are in order both during your life and after your death. While it gives you the power to express your final wishes, estate planning is largely about the people you’re leaving behind. For those individuals who want to explain and humanize their estate planning documents, we are happy to help you give the gift of a legacy video to your family. Ask us about legacy planning when you contact us and we’ll explain how the process works.

Click here (http://goo.gl/ejvZgY) to participate in one-question poll on legacy planning.