Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during a person’s life. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.
That seems a little complicated to me so let’s dumb it down.
On the most basic level, estate planning is about how you want to get rid of your stuff when you die. If you’re a control freak, you might craft intricate documents detailing how every last penny of your hard earned money is distributed at death. If you’re a free spirit, you might say “who cares? I’m dead!” and let your cards fall where they may.
Ernest Becker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Author of The Denial of Dealth said it best when he said:
What man really fears is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance. Man wants to know that his life has somehow counted, if not for himself, then at least for a larger scheme of things, that it has left a trace, a trace that has meaning, its effects must remain alive in eternity in some way.
In other words, most of us want to want to believe that our life had some sort of meaning. Our estate is a way of leaving a legacy whereby someone might say “Holy cow! The guy driving the 20 year old Camry had $3 million dollars? He’s starting a foundation? Whoa!” Or maybe they’d say “That guy has nothing to show for his life except for this Instagram account. Wait, when did he go to Nepal? He’s been to Istanbul? Wow? I never knew he left the house.” Either way, it’s all about being comfortable NOW with your legacy when you pass. How do YOU want to be remembered?