I talked with Joel not long ago about getting his estate plan in order. He gave me a pained look. His look spoke of something like going to the dentist—knowing that it needs to be done but not wanting to do it.
In reality, we need a new vision of estate planning. While estate planning certainly involves some very technical legal issues, it can be so much more. And yes, the estate plan is necessary to mechanically pass on your assets to children and loved ones.
But what is the something more? Think of estate planning as a chance to tell your story. Not long ago, I got by email a picture of my dad dating back to the 1950s. He was with my grandmother and grandfather. I knew none of them well, but in that picture was a wealth of story. I wish I had those stories now to help me understand my heritage.
Frankly, the key to successful estate planning is not the technical issues anyhow. The key is how well you tell your story. Use your estate planning documents to tell your story. There’s nothing that prohibits an attachment that can tell your life story, your values, the things you care about, and perhaps best of all—the things you dream about for your kids and your grandkids.
The story becomes the living document behind the estate plan. It lives on beyond you. Learn to tell your story in your estate documents. It is indeed the ultimate gift.
Learn how to include a the story in a “legacy letter” to your loved ones with your estate documents by downloading my Guide to Purposeful Language.
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Published September 15, 2010
Topics: Estate Planning