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    Failed estate plans usually fall into one of two categories: either they are not kept up to date, or they are not done at all. The old saying of “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” may seem trite, but it is certainly true with respect to estate planning. There are several common roadblocks that prevent people from executing and maintaining their estate plan.

    The first roadblock is the fear of making the wrong decision.  Families often put off completing their estate planning because they cannot agree on how to answer the big questions, such as who should serve as guardians or Trustees for their children.  To resolve the resulting paralysis, we help our clients understand that once executed, Wills, Powers of Attorney, and other estate planning documents are easily changed without incurring substantially more legal fees.  Instead of putting off the whole process because of disagreement over one or two components, would it not be better to complete ninety percent of your planning, knowing it can later be “tweaked” to make it absolutely ideal?  We make updates and changes to your estate plan easy and relatively inexpensive.  This gives you the confidence to put a “mostly right” estate plan into place while avoiding the myth that it must be perfect the first time.  Keep in mind that an estate plan which is not done at all is one hundred percent wrong! 

    The second roadblock is complexity. Navigating the changes in your life is difficult, and the complexity of estate planning can be paralyzing.  After all, estate planning involves addressing issues of disability, values, family dynamics, taxes, and death.  It is easy to become overwhelmed by all the different aspects of the process.  To alleviate this roadblock, we break the process down into bite sized pieces using diagrams and easily understandable language.  We then walk our clients through the process step by step, only moving forward when there is both understanding and agreement.

    The third roadblock is the emotional difficulty of a process that is often seen as planning for death. We will help you see that an estate plan does so much more than just plan for death: it addresses many current issues, such as lifetime gifts, educational funding, and minimizing the cost of the care for a disabled family member.  Most importantly, it provides peace and security for you and your loved ones by putting you in charge.  Without an estate plan, all aspects of the administration of your estate, from guardianship of your children to distribution of your assets, will be decided by Washington’s default rules.  Why allow inefficient and unnecessarily complex procedures to compound the emotional loss with a financial one?

    Finally, many people put off completing their estate planning documents because they do not know where to go. Perhaps a traditional firm seems too large and stuffy, or you simply don’t know any local attorneys. No matter where you go for your estate planning, we hope that you can overcome these common roadblocks and get a quality plan in place.  

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