Estate Planning Is Not A Transaction

In our previous blog article, which we hope you have read, we explained how we have changed the way we do Estate Planning. This need for change was triggered by a question my Business Coach asked me, which was “How Do You Sleep At Night?” 

He was referring to how some of our law firm clients were not able to get a better plan 10 years ago, to protect assets. Now they are sick and have no asset protection in place. It is unfortunate that the cost of getting the best estate plan which I offered to them, prevented them from doing so.

Change Was Necessary

After being asked this question, I had to do some soul searching. As a team, we had to modify what we were doing. We made many changes, to create a plan which we have come to love. We are also teaching other law firms how to change their law firm, because it is a better way of doing business.

Estate planning when done properly, is not a transaction. It is about more than planning for who gets your stuff when you pass away. We need to embrace the reality that things change over time. An Estate Plan is not a document you purchase and put on the shelf, and look at 20 years later. There will likely be changes in your circumstances that require you to update your estate plan every few years.

We observed that some of our clients, when we checked in with them 18 months after setting up their estate plan, had forgotten to update their estate plan. For many, their circumstances changed which necessitates their estate plan needing to be updated. We realise that people can forget, and given that estate planning is complicated, we decided to change the way things were done.  

We Want to Welcome You to the Red Wagon Club

We came up with an ongoing membership program that we call our The Red Wagon Club. This membership program ensures that you’re apprised when the law changes, so we can change your documents as needed. There is also an opportunity for our members to socialise in our fun events which we host regularly.

Most law firms consider estate planning to be a transaction. This comes from law school where estate planning is known as transactional law. However, we want to have a long term relationship with you rather than merely a transaction.

Keeping You Updated

Being a member of the Red Wagon Club, means that you will know when they’re changing the laws, and how it may affect you. The long term care community is currently evolving and we are seeing an increase in personal care homes, and a decrease in skilled nursing beds. The current staffing challenge along with resource allocation is impacting how people receive their long term care. 

We have a nurse and a social worker on our team, who teach people about their long term care options. If you’re going to get sick in 5 to 10 years, it is helpful to understand the landscape that you’re going into ahead of time. It is less stressful than trying to navigate this when it becomes a medical emergency.

The Six Elements of an Estate Plan

Sechler Law Firm focuses on the six elements of an estate plan, the first of which is education. We provide education by offering free Workshops which you can register for on our Website. We then have estate planning tools which we teach you how to use. This could be a Will, Trust and Power of Attorney. 

The next element is financial alignment. If you create a trust we help you align your financial accounts. We work with you and your financial advisor to retitle the financial accounts, and ensure your beneficiary designations align with the estate plan.

Next is the healthcare element, especially for our seniors. As a Red Wagon Club member, we hold workshops to explain how this long term care system works. There are many care options available, but the average consumer has no idea how it all works. We explain the difference between Medicare and Medicaid so that you understand your options. We teach you the difference between personal care homes, in-home care, skilled nursing facilities, the life programme and other community-based services. Estate planning is not death planning, but making sure you have a successful retirement.

Helping Your Family

We also have a class teaching your kids or your decision makers, about their future roles and responsibilities as executor or trustee, when you pass away. The title of the workshop is “Know your Role”. We explain how your estate plan will work because most of the kids don’t understand what is required of them. We teach them what their role as executor or trustee will be, to reduce the stress later.

So many of my clients tell me that they don’t want to be a burden to their children. I totally appreciate their sentiments in wanting to reduce the stress for their kids. While we can’t prevent stressful things from occurring, we can prepare your family members to respond to the stress. We will also help your kids understand what it means when you get sick, and what to do when you pass away. 

Tell Your Story

The last thing that we help our clients with is storytelling. We show them how to record stories for their grandkids, in a way that honours what you’ve accomplished. There are more arguments over the family photo album when mom passes away, than over the money. Sadly, the photo album is a relic of the past because most families don’t have family photo albums anymore. 

All the photos are in our phones now, but this also provides opportunities. There may be photos on your phone that aren’t so flattering, which you don’t want to share. However, we can create a plan for these assets, because your kids and grandkids still want to see the pictures and know your life story. Your mobile phone is something you can use to tell your story or document an aging relative’s story. We have a class, the Digital Legacy Workshop, which teaches you how to plan for your digital assets. 

“How Do YOU Sleep At Night?” 

This is my question for you….

I know it’s not fun to think about doing estate planning. However, with the free workshops and education available to help you to create your estate plan, why have you not acted? Even if you created a Will last year, you know it’s not a complete plan. A Will only deals with who gets the stuff when you pass away. Having an estate plan allows for you to protect yourself from what goes bump in the night. Planning ahead alleviates the need to have to deal with a crisis unprepared.