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Devising a plan to make an estate plan

Which would your family rather do: spend the day at Cocoa Riverfront Park or discuss estate planning? Tour the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science or discuss the inevitability of mortality? The answers are probably pretty obvious – we would all prefer entertaining distractions to discussions of what will happen when you are gone.

However, a recent article in a Florida newspaper made an excellent point about the value of looking ahead: “Estate planning can be an immense blessing to any family at a time of great loss.”

As much as we might initially experience discomfort in discussing the inevitable, that awkward moment is nothing compared to the difficulties in disputes, probate court and even litigation in the absence of an estate plan. The article pointed out that avoiding a discussion of mortality simply does not prevent it from happening.

That said, it is also true that softening language can soften the blow of the discussion. Instead of referring to death, you can substitute phrases such as “When I’m gone” or “Once you’re on your own.” Using those phrases (or ones tailored by you to your circumstances) can make it easier to shift from a focus on morbidity to one in which options are discussed and effective plans are made.

Another emotional block that people can run into is the idea of having to assess their assets. This can seem a daunting task, especially for those who have been around awhile and accumulated substantial assets (home, business, jewelry, properties, stocks, vehicles, pension, etc.).

But if you and your spouse or other loved ones divide the assets into two categories – financial and physical – it can make the job more manageable. You can then break the assets down into subcategories of value or price, and who might be the appropriate heir of the various items.

You can discuss these strategies and more with an attorney who understands the importance of estate planning tools and how to make them work for you and your loved ones.

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