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8 Estate Planning Lessons Learned Over the Past Year

The last year has been one full of trials and lessons - learn what 2020 taught us about the importance of Estate Planning and preparing.

Nobody can deny that the last year has been incredibly difficult in many ways. We’ve dealt with a level of shock, trauma and heartache that we haven’t seen in generations. But out of tragedy comes lessons learned.

What are the biggest lessons we’ve all learned in the last year? From COVID-19 and the loss of 500,000+ American lives, to a country torn apart by racial injustice, even to the fascination of the struggles within the Royal family across the pond, there’s something everyone can take as a lesson worth learning from 2020. 

The biggest question now is: Can we walk away from the last year with a more steady focus, a clearer vision on how we can be better-prepared for the unknowns in life? We think the answer is yes. In fact, we think that we owe it to ourselves and to everyone who’s been affected by the pandemic, by the injustices we’ve witnessed, by the losses we’ve faced, to honor the many lessons this last year has taught us. 

What are some of the top lessons we learned over the course of the last year? 

1. When it comes to Estate Planning, there’s no such thing as too early. 

Estate Planning is something we should all make a priority. 2020 taught us: we’re never too young, too broke, too healthy, or too inexperienced to start planning for our future. A comprehensive Estate Plan can not only help in the future, it can give us peace of mind now, knowing that we’ve protected ourselves and our loved ones every single day.

2. You can afford it…really. 

In fact, with online Estate Planning services like Trust & Will, Estate Planning is more affordable than ever. Don’t let the excuse “I can’t afford it” be a dictating factor in whether or not you make the effort to set up your Trust, Will or guardianship for your children (or pets!). There’s a common misconception out there that Estate Planning is too expensive for most of us to afford. But gone are the days where millionaires and mansions are the requirements needed to qualify for an Estate Plan. Today, if you’re an adult, have a career, have children or have any savings or retirement, you simply need to have an Estate Plan. And it doesn’t have to cost you an exorbitant amount to get one. 

3. Technology can be used for good. 

We’ve been dependent on technology for decades. But throughout 2020, from remote learning for our kids, to remote work environments across the globe, to social sharings that encourage peace and positivity, we leaned on technology more than ever before. And that same technology that helped us connect and survive is now helping people create stellar Estate Plans in a matter of minutes.  

4. Crisis management is a skill we should all strive to master. 

You don’t have to be a doomsdayer to be prepared. Preparing for what could happen (like starting your Estate Plan) might just mean you actually start worrying less about if it actually will happen.

5. Making healthcare decisions shouldn’t be a gametime situation. 

Nobody wants to think about being ill or having to make excruciating medical decisions. But just “not wanting to” unfortunately can’t keep bad things from happening to us. A solid Estate Plan would include legally establishing your wishes for what healthcare you would (or wouldn’t) want in the future, before tough decisions need to be made.

6. Saying it isn’t always enough. 

Even if you’ve had those difficult conversations about what you want to have happen in the future, unless you make it legally binding, those conversations will likely mean nothing. Make sure you legally establish what you want, who should get what and how your overall estate should be handled. This can be very simple when you put together a concrete, conclusive Estate Plan for your friends, family and the courts to follow. Without legal documents, you’re leaving a lot up to chance (and the courts) should something ever happen to you unexpectedly.

7. Our families deserve protection.

It’s easy to think about Estate Planning in a vacuum. But the truth is, an Estate Plan is about more than just us and our estate. It’s also largely about protecting our friends, our family, any loved ones in our lives. When you take the time to set up your Estate Plan, you’re alleviating significant future stress on those closest to you after you pass away. Without that proper plan in place, your family and friends will be left to forge an uncharted path, as they do their best to try and determine what you would want. It will be daunting, and stressful, and overwhelming. Protect your family today by setting up an Estate Plan that clearly states exactly what you want to have happen, so there’s no guesswork on their end when the time comes.

8. It’s hard to be lonely. 

Everybody has felt lonely at one time or another, but the pandemic put the concept of loneliness into perspective for us all. Not being able to give a hug, or see a grandchild, or celebrate a graduation, or do any of the normal things we’ve all taken for granted in the past, redefined for us what being lonely actually means. Part of combating loneliness is knowing that you’ve done everything you can to take care of those closest to you. Your Estate Plan is a key part in how you can care for others in your life.

There are many things the pandemic and the last year have taught us. But perhaps the most important lessons are the ones we’ve learned about just how fragile life is. Throughout 2020, we were abruptly (and at times cruelly) reminded of how important it is for us to take steps to ensure our loved ones, and our legacy, are protected in the future.

Are you ready to set up your Estate Plan? Learn how Trust & Will has streamlined and simplified the process. In a matter of just a few minutes, you can set up everything you need, with state-specific forms created by Estate Planning experts and attorneys, so you can feel confident that your plan covers the important parts of life.

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