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Watching Usain Bolt cross the finish line for a third consecutive gold medal for the 100m sprint or seeing Michael Phelps add to his amazing gold medal collection is part of what makes the Olympics so much fun.  Each of these athletes has dedicated a huge chunk of their lives to be able to compete on that world stage, to perform for that one moment in time when it matters.  What we see during the performance is a reflection of the time and effort spent outside the limelight. 

Estate plans work the same way – they have their moment in the spotlight, at in that moment of execution, it becomes clear how well prepared that plan is.  Not placing in this competition could mean lost time, frustration, expenses that could have been avoided, and possibly your kids fighting with each other.

Here are tips to create that Olympic worthy gold medal winning routine for your family’s future.

1. Prepare

What you don’t know about estate planning will impact your family.  Take the time to discover the state’s rules for who is in charge, and who gets your stuff.  Map out a game plan to get started – whether it is some self-education, or simply scheduling an appointment with a reputable estate planning attorney, decide on your next step and execute.  To start your self-education, check out Estate Plan Pros’ Estate Planning Essentials course – short, to the point, and easy to understand.

2. Train

An athlete’s routine – mental and physical – can make the difference between first and last place.  Often the hardest part of training is unlearning bad habits or bad ideas.  Bad ideas like, if I ignore it, it will go away, or I won’t care – I’ll be gone.  Contemplating your own mortality is a philosophical exercise most of us would rather not do.  But it is natural to take care of the people most important to us.  Estate planning is just about making sure that the people we care about are going to be taken care of. 

3. Eat Right

A diet of soda and chips staring at a flickering screen won’t get an athlete very far.  And just like any profession, estate planning has its share of heroes and villains.  Watch out for the people selling a financial product and an estate plan together – that is a ploy villains often use.  Estate planning has a lot of moving pieces, between family members, different assets, major tax traps, and processes that the uninitiated (and sometimes even the initiated) find baffling.  You can’t rely on barbershop advice to navigate your family to estate planning success.

4. Work with a Coach

No serious athlete trains by themselves.  They have someone to guide, challenge, mentor and monitor them, and on occasion kick them into action.  In short, they have a coach.  You need someone on your estate planning team that can act as your coach, someone who’s been there, and knows just how to get the best results for you.

5. Work Out

An estate plan isn’t a binder of papers gathering dust in a back corner.  It should be working for you, and if it is going to work the way you want it to, then there are a few key things you need to do regularly to keep your estate plan functioning well.  That is why at our office, every estate plan comes with lifetime support. 

Compete

Estate plans aren’t an exercise, in theory, they are the preparations you make for your family’s future success.  Will they find themselves stepping onto the middle platform holding their hands high in victory?

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