Estate Planning: Share the Pain

How many people do you know who describe with glee the meeting with their estate planning attorney?  To the contrary, I know many who’ve been working on their estate plan for years.  In fact, the plan will remain incomplete unless of course, they are facing international travel which will sometimes prompt a hurried meeting with the lawyer.

What is the key to completing an estate plan?  It is sharing your pain.  What do I mean?

Often the key to a family avoiding the estate planning process is that they’ve never learned to share their pain.  When completing an estate plan, a family has to begin summing up their lives—how much they’ve accumulated, what they think of their kids, and charities they may want to support.

Inevitably, in looking back at their past, they must address the pain and regrets of the past.  Many don’t know how to express the doubts about their own marriage, their children and what they value.  The gift to charity is a reflection of what they value.

Yet as a family begins to work through their pain they can make clear decisions about the future.  Estate plans are living messages to a time we’ll never see.  It is wise to work with a planner who knows how to discuss and draw out a family and put on the table all the doubts and fears.  Once those doubts and fears are cleared up, everything else can fall in place.

So take heart.  Share the pain and complete the plan.

William F. High is the President/General Counsel of the Servant Christian Community Foundation (  Servant’s mission is to inspire, teach and facilitate revolutionary biblical generosity.  He may be reached at

Posted in For Advisors, For Givers. Tags: , , , , . Comments Off on Estate Planning: Share the Pain
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