By Debbie Stanley
For a long time I put off my estate plan and any conversation that had to do with planning my legacy. If you had asked me, I would have preferred to go to the gym and awkwardly run on the treadmill while day dreaming about chocolate rather than discuss something so personal and scary. I had a will, my husband had a will…. this was enough of a plan, right?
Now I know you may be thinking, I am a qualified licensed professional who deals with Trusts and Estates every single day. Why would I have put this off? Well, to be honest it is a scary thing and even someone who dedicates their life to this subject is not immune to the fear. I found an excuse to do something else, change the subject, or work on my clients affairs instead of my own. Finally I decided that it was time to give myself some tough love and signed my husband and I up to walk through the process that I go through with my clients. We planned out all the details of our estate; starting with reviewing our wills, working on and organizing finances and lastly discussing our funeral wishes. After the exercise I reflected on some of the emotions I was feeling after such a deeply personal experience.
Estate Planning gives a sense of clarity. When we go through the motions of everyday life, we tend to get bogged down by all the daily details and tasks that call for our attention. Stopping and making the time to speak with a professional (yes I know it was myself!) about my estate plan brought a sense of clarity to my wishes that I never knew I had. There are tough questions that are asked, and sometimes difficult decisions to be made and it forced me to admit things or look at things in a manner that I normally wouldn’t. While the subject matter is uncomfortable, gaining a better sense of understanding of all the moving pieces of my estate is a feeling that is pretty hard to describe.
Confidence follows the estate plan. Once you sit and go through all the aspects of your life and come away with clarity, it is only natural to feel confident. Imagine sitting with someone who walks you through all these items that are yours, but takes the time to explain them to you. Sitting down and having someone walk you through the process is both educational and motivational, you will learn things about yourself and have the confidence to back up all the decisions you have made for your plan. Even though I help clients with this, I felt so much more confident regarding my own estate due to the research process for certain out of the box ideas I had for my situation. Now if someone asks me why I chose to do something in my estate plan, I can confidently explain it to them.
Peace of mind. This is a funny thing, but after completing our estate plan I slept soundly that night. It is not because I was suddenly OK with the concept of death and passing away, but because I knew my wishes were written down, my important documents were organized and my finances were all in order. My husband and I thought that if something were to happen to us how difficult it would be for family to come in and sort through everything on top of being emotionally upset. We felt so much better knowing that we had given a gift to our executors by having everything organized for them and well prepared.
It is not an easy road to travel on, however it is so important to do so. My hopes are that one day estate planning will be like first aid training everyone should do it; we all hope that we never need to use it, but are grateful when we must call upon the knowledge we have learned and preparations we have made.
Debbie Stanley of ETP Canada is an Elite Mompreneur member based out of Guelph, Ontario.