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    What’s Estate Planning Look Like to You?

    Ed Olkovich

    What difference can a picture make in your life? Well, have you seen the future of film in 3-D movies like Avatar? What about the new age of high definition television? Isn’t time we had a new picture of estate planning?

    Okay, before your head starts spinning, let me reassure you; I have solved this puzzle for you. You can benefit from my three decades of estate experience helping people like you. If you keep reading, I will give you a new picture you can use to take action.

    But first, I’ll explain why you need a new way of looking at estate planning. I am excited about sharing this with you for many reasons. The principal reward for you is simple – you will see things differently. You will be more comfortable taking care of your family and yourself.

    The traditional way of dealing with estate planning is less than inspiring. Like most people, you probably have a hard time visualizing what this subject is about.

    What about a pen resting on paper showing a person signing a will? That is the kind of stock photo on many a law firm’s website. Does this really inspire you to action?

    What Motivates You to Act?

    For the traditionalists, estate planning has been all about being prepared. This works for those who like to be organized and prevent problems.

    For those who live in the moment, a different approach is necessary. For people who count or measure things, saving taxes may be the right approach.

    Those with responsibilities to protect vulnerable or minor children may feel a sense of obligation.

    If you have a loving relationship, you wish to take care of your partner or spouse.

    Why Professionals Disagree

    It is difficult to get a consensus on what estate planning is about. Even professionals disagree on what the term may mean.

    For example, if you ask an accountant what estate planning is, they will answer, “It’s all about making sure you don’t pay too much taxes.”

    Ask a lawyer and you learn it’s as exciting as signing a will or power of attorney documents.

    Do you have a business or substantial wealth? Then it may include preparing trusts and a succession plan.

    Financial advisors want you to plan so your investments go intact to your beneficiaries. You should not run out of money while you still are breathing.

    Insurance advisors offer you liquidity. You get a chance to create an estate instantly. Life insurance will pay your debts and financial obligations for those you care about.

    To those in the trust industry, estate planning means having the right executor to manage estate investments. They can deal with turmoil and uncertain risks.

    Are You Surprised By This?

    This quick summary is a bit tongue-in-cheek. It shows you that different players in this industry have, surprise surprise, different approaches. Is there any wonder that people are confused? They get bombarded by different messages every day.

    Each industry sector has different estate planning solutions or products to sell or promote. This is perfectly normal. However, an individual sales approach may not be the best way to encourage you to act. That’s why you will see players in the field joining forces or working in teams.

    Making the best decisions in this team environment can be difficult. Objectivity and independent advice may be expensive and difficult to find.

    Find a Simple Solution

    What about a holistic approach to deal with the next generation’s financial needs? Can you address your own legal and moral obligations this way?

    I speak to audiences across Canada. What I have learned is that people do not react well to sales approaches. They are more interested in the stories of real-life people. They want to know about their failures and successes when it comes to providing for loved ones.

    In my book, Estate to the Heart, I created a new image to help you. If a picture can save a thousand words, this is what estate planning should look like:

    How should you interpret this?

    Most people want their money to go straight to the people they love. They want this to happen with the least amount of pain, expense and delay. This is the real benefit of having an estate plan.

    I hope this new vision will work for you. Estate planning can be a user-friendly experience. You only need a new picture to focus your actions. Now you can get to the heart of what really matters.

    A different view can change what you do.

    Start by asking yourself these questions.

    What do I wish to happen to my money?

    What must I do for my loved ones?

    Ask your advisors for a total – not piecemeal – plan.

    Take action to carry out these wishes.

    Put your heart back into your estate planning with a new purpose.

    I have based my new business, EstateTherapy.com on providing simple solutions to estate matters.

    I welcome your ideas for topics for future articles on estate matters.

    Ed Olkovich Copyright © 2010

    Ed Olkovich is an Ontario lawyer and Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts Law. Ed is also the author of Estate to the Heart: How to Plan Wills and Estates for Your Loved Ones – quick and easy estate planning, in a nutshell.

    He is known across Canada as “MrWills”, which is also the name of his law firm’s website.

    Ed is also the founder of www. EstateTherapy.com, which provides simple solutions to estate matters.

    The MONEY® Network