Everyone has a different motivation for beginning the estate planning process. Often a couple has just welcomed their first child. Others are in the process of retiring and find their original Wills that were drafted right after their first child was born. For some, it’s when they move to a new state. One of the most common reasons, however, is that a loved one or a friend has passed away.
The estate planning process is unique in our society because it is one of the very few times that we are forced to focus on our mortality. We typically behave as if death weren’t part of life. Clients prompted by this last situation usually proceed through the estate planning process more mindfully. While no one wants to think about his or her own death, this group of clients has been forced into the mindset by their loss.
Regardless of what gets you started, I would encourage you to view the process as an opportunity to reflect on life rather than focus on death. Estate planning can prompt you to appreciate the people in your life that mean the most to you. While deciding whom to list for each job in your estate plan, consider how you can enjoy those people more. Contemplating your child being raised by another person, while uncomfortable, provides the opportunity for you to express to that potential guardian how much you appreciate and trust her.
A particular mindfulness exercise that I ran across recently focuses on the visualization that you have died. What are the things that you have been reluctant to do or try because of fear of what other people think? What are some risks that you have not taken because you think you might fail? Imagining that you don’t have the opportunity to take these chances is a great motivation to take action. Live intentionally now and make sure the people you name in your documents know that you trust and care for them. At the very least, It is a good excuse to ask some friends to go out to dinner!