You have great power over the destiny of your family. In fact, you have the ability save your family… or destroy it.
Yes. I am aware that probably hit you square between the eyes. In fact, I hope it did.
Too many of us make all the excuses in the world to not work on our estate plan or just throw darts at an attorney, get documents in place, and say we have one. Neither of these add up to a Family Disaster Plan.
Almost all families have an elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. And those elephants can live a long time. They often outlive you. So even if you think you have the elephant under control now, what will happen after you die?
I will never forget sitting by my brother in the back of a room listening to our dad. He was talking about this very topic. He stated, “All of us have dysfunctional children.” Then he paused. You can imagine the entire room turning its gaze back to the two of us. He continued, “It is just a matter of how dysfunctional and in what ways each one is. In fact, we all have dysfunctions.”
Although we chuckle at this story, those few sentences are no laughing matter. If you really stop to think, this is a very hard truth. And one thing we all know is that progress can really only begin when the truth is in full focus.
It is easy to sugar coat reality or simply ignore it. But here is the truth: dysfunctions are in everyone’s family. The situation doesn’t go away because we sugar coat it or ignore it, or transfer the responsibility of it to the next generation.
And on the note of transferring the elephant…you are probably thinking, I cannot be responsible for my grown children’s actions. While true, it is also true that you probably know what those actions will be or could possibly be.
Ignoring their behavior is like ignoring weeds in your garden. It will eventually be out of control. No, you cannot control your children, nor should you. Yet if done right, estate planning can be your garden keeper. We will be the first ones to admit that money won’t save your family, but perhaps Love will. It may end up being a plan based on hard love, but love nonetheless.
So, back to the point. What do you have—a Simple Estate Plan or a Family Disaster Plan? Did you start with the old-fashioned “who gets what, when, and how?” If so, this may just be a recipe for disaster.
If you want success, start with your heart. Start with what is most important to you in life. Start with those moments in your life that made you who you are. Bottom line...What do you really want to pass on as your legacy? Once we figure out how to transfer that, then the money and the documents will fall in place.
I would bet you want your family to carry on with good Christmases and Thanksgivings filled with family stories, laughter, and memory making for generations to come. Who doesn’t? The truth is it all starts with you!