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  • Amy Privette

Prepare Now for a Harvest Later

Estate planning is a lot like farming. There's no harvest without the labor and preparation.

For the farmer, the first step is tilling the ground. Tilling the soil helps to break up soil clumps, destroys weeds, and distribute nutrients into the soil. All of this helps prepare the ground to be a rich bed for crops to grow and helps secure a successful growing season. In estate planning, the first step is also all about preparation and setting yourself up for a successful planning experience. It may involve gathering financial information so you have a handle on the assets that need to be planned for. It may require you to consider your relationships and who you may ask to serve in particular roles for your plan (ex: executor, guardian, trustee, etc.). It may mean having a conversation with your spouse or partner to define your estate planning goals. It may also mean connecting with an estate planning attorney in your area to make sure you are doing all you can to secure a successful planning experience.

The second step for the farmer is sowing the seeds and allowing nature to do its job. In estate planning, the second step is creating the estate plan itself. But in order for it to work, you need to be proactive, not reactive. The best estate plan is one that is done purposefully and proactively. Reactive estate planning (that is, the type of planning that is done when you are faced with an emergency and have no existing plan) is stressful and less likely to cover all of your needs. A little forethought goes a long way. After all, if you want strawberries in April, then you need to start planting seeds in March. Your estate plan is the seed that will bear fruit for your family and loved ones, as long as it is cultivated and cared for, which brings us to Step Three.

Planting the seed is not enough to yield a harvest. After planting, the farmer must properly cultivate and care for the tender crop, keeping in mind that there are a lot of variables that can affect her yield, like weather and environmental factors. This is true for estate planning as well. Much like the farmer cannot control the weather, your estate plan is also affected by factors over which you have no control, like changes in the law at either the state or federal level. Your plan is also affected by more personal things like changes in your health, changes in your relationships, and changes in your financial well-being. Your estate plan is a living thing that needs to be adjusted and refreshed from time-to-time. It needs to adapt as the world around you changes. The only thing worse than not having an estate plan is having one that is so out-of-date that it no longer addresses the realities of your current needs and the needs of your family. If you want your plan to work, then you have to make sure it is properly maintained as time goes by.

Finally, after tilling the soil, planting the seeds, and continually caring for the crop, it is time for the farmer to reap the harvest and enjoy the fruits of her labor. In estate planning, you actually won't get to see the harvest. This is the point where your plan is put into action, most likely after your death. It is your family and loved ones who will reap the bountiful harvest of the plan you carefully crafted, cultivated, and cared for.

Remember, there's no harvest without labor and preparation. If you're ready to start preparing for the successful future of your family, contact us. We're here to help.

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