This Blog was written by Emily Racine, Estate and Trust Consultant with Scotia Wealth Management
After being in this business for nearly a decade, I often hear from clients about the stress and worry that is associated with estate planning. This stress can often cause a blockage for some clients forcing estate planning considerations to be put off to the side and stalling clients from having their plan completed.
There is no doubt that making a will is a stressful process. To start, no one likes to think about their own mortality. To add to that, I do not believe anyone particularly enjoys answering probing questions about their family. To make matters even worse, a complete estate plan contemplates some very tragic possibilities, such as a guardian for a child if both parents are deceased or, even worse, the death of a child. It is no wonder that, in the face of all this, many choose to delay or postpone their estate plan rather than confronting these uncomfortable topics.
However, the consequences of having a haphazard or outdated estate plan or, even worse, no will at all, are far worse. The stress of creating an estate plan is nothing compared to the stress of dealing with an estate where there are limited, incorrect or outdated documents in place. Even if this nightmare scenario doesn’t come to pass, the stress of knowing that you should have a will in place, but you do not is one of those nagging thoughts that wakes clients up in the middle of the night.
So how can we, as planners, make this process easier on our clients? Here are a few helpful tips and suggestions to consider:
- If clients are beginning to feel overwhelmed, let them know that they don’t have to do it all at once. Baby steps are better than no steps at all.
- Make sure clients know that things can always change. Estate planners want to try to account for every scenario, but clients are sometimes comforted by knowing that they don’t have to have all the answers for all the situations they may face; the plan can always be updated as necessary.
- Above all, exercise compassion with clients and tailor your approach to their individual needs.
There is no doubt that putting an estate plan in place can be stressful but it is one of the most important things an individual can do to reduce the stress of those they leave behind. It is important to recognize the anxiety of this process for our clients and to do whatever we can to minimize it.