Before I Do An Estate Plan… Does My Life Need To Be In Order?

If you're waiting until life settles down or you get all your ducks in a row before doing an estate plan. Chances are high you'll die waiting. There's no perfect time to write your will - except right now.

Life has a way of turning out different to what we imagine. We see it all the time. We experience it all the time.

And yet we're surprised by it. All the time!

If you're waiting until life settles down, the dust settles, or the share price goes up.

If you're waiting until you get married, find the perfect house, have a baby, or retire.

If you're waiting until your divorce is finalised, your kids leave home, or until everything is neat and tidy and lined up in a perfect row before doing your estate plan.

Chances are high it will never happen. Because sometimes even the neatest life is complicated. And waiting doesn't make it any less so.

Here's 5 reasons not to wait until everything is in order to get your estate planning done.

1. Estate Planning Is About Asking "What If I Die Next Year?". Not trying to predict the future.

Good estate planning is about asking (and answering) the (admittedly hard) question "What do I want life to look like if I died next year?"

And unless you're some kind of super human, there's every chance your life next year, won't be more sorted than your life this year.

Your will is your insurance policy for right now. Not a plan for what life might look like in the future.

2. Done is Better Than Perfect

Someone once said this to me and, because I'm a recovering perfectionist, I nearly choked on my own shock.

But I also know ruminating on, over thinking the minute details, and fearing they haven't accounted for every eventuality are the most common things that stop people from getting their estate planning completed.

If your will isn't perfect, it's ok. It doesn't have to last a life time. As life changes your will should change too.

I also offer a comfort guarantee - if there are parts of your will that chafe or don't feel comfortable any time in the three months after you complete your wills, I'll redraft them for you for nothing.

3. Not Knowing The Answers Isn't Enough Reason To Not Have A Plan

"I know I need to do a will but I don't know how to make sure everyone is happy."

A lot of people come to me thinking they need to have all the answers before we get together. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The best thing about estate planning, as opposed to just taking instructions to write a will, is I get to know you and your life - the things that are important to you, the things that worry you, and the things that scare you - then together we create a strategy and a plan for what that will look like if you die.

4. Shame, Fear, and Disappointment Have No Place In Estate Planning

Shame and fear are emotions that have been manipulated by the traditional leagal industry for a very long time - because fear and shame stop people from opening up and creating a will that is kind and fair.

Unkind and unfair wills generally result in someone being disappointed. Disappointment in my experience leads to costly estate disputes, which traditional lawyers love.

Good estate planning enables you to lay all your cards on the table and manage any disappointment in advance, or write the kind of will that avoids it all together.

5. Estate Planning Isn't Just A Will

Making sure your family and/or friends have all the tools they need to help you live your best life, if you're incapacitated or unable to make your own decisions, is as important as making sure you have a good will.

Our estate planning includes helping you work out who to nominate as your substitute decision maker(s) and preparing Advance Care Directives (nominating who will make your health care decisions) and an Enduring Power of Attorney (nominating who will make your financial decisions) on your behalf.

Ducks in a row

The way I see it an estate plan is a bit like sitting down to do one of those crazy 5,000 piece puzzles.

You open the lid and see all 5,000 of those tiny misshaped pieces staring up at you and wonder how on earth you're going to arrange them so they look like the serene landscape on the front.

This is the point you have two choices - you either stick the lid back on the box and stuff it at the bottom of the sideboard (where all the other puzzles went to die) OR you dump all the pieces out on the table and start sorting them.

You start putting up the corners, the straight pieces along the edges, the clump of bushes in the middle, the orange bits of the sunset over the ocean.... before you know it your puzzle is starting to represent the picture on the front.

I'm very good at looking at what you're trying to achieve and helping put the pieces together (no matter how impossible it seems) to make the two match up.

There will never be a perfect time to sit down and write a will - except right now.

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