As with many issues, to those who know, no explanation is necessary. To those who don’t know, no explanation is sufficient.

In medicine, there is cure and care; in finance, there is worth and value. In estate planning, there is wealth and meaning. Most people see the estate planner’s role as writing a document that transfers wealth at death. Just as significant is our role to communicate our client’s meaning clearly. This meaning is the foundation for estate planning.

The vast majority of estate plan failures occur because there was not a clear transfer of meaning. Clients who know that meaning serves as the foundation of the plan need no explanation; but there is no sufficient explanation for those who view the plan merely as transferring of property. And that is OK, if that is truly what they want.

Clients sometimes think that they start estate planning when they see the lawyer. But the estate planning process starts long before that as each person begins to fashion a life of meaning and accumulate wealth. The result of one’s life is revealed at death. If one dies well, they lived well, with meaning, and passed meaning on as the underlying foundation for wealth. This challenging time offers an opportunity for us to choose what matters to us — what is meaningful; what is not.

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