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Planning a Wedding or Planning Your Estate? The Elements are the Same!
I am in the midst of planning my wedding, and I love it. Call me crazy, but I truly enjoy the process. What I’ve realized is that planning a wedding is really no different than what I have been doing for my clients these past several years. When you look at the elements I’ve listed below, you’ll see that they really apply to any action in life that requires a “plan”.
Picture how your wedding planning started. You probably had likes and dislikes, certain locations, flowers, colors, or food that was important to you. You may have thumbed through endless magazines and gone overboard on Pinterest (in fact, I can’t imagine planning my wedding without Pinterest now!). Ultimately, you ended up with a vision for your dream wedding. That is exactly what you do with your estate plan. You think of the many possibilities for who your Trustee may be, the organizations you wish to make charitable gifts to, the goals you have for your children’s future. You form a vision. Now you need to go to your team to implement that vision.
Planning a wedding is not done in a one-stop shop. I have a venue, a caterer, a coordinator, a design company, lighting, a baker, a hairstylist…you get the picture…. They will all work together as a team to bring my vision to life. Now think of your estate plan. Your estate plan involves legal elements, financial elements, realty, businesses, and taxes. You may have found the one-stop shop expert to assist you with your plan, but often it takes a team to have experts in each field work together to form the best overall plan for you. Your estate planning attorney, financial planner/wealth manager, realtor, business attorney, and CPA will all consult to form your plan.
How far do you want your team to go for you? I have no doubt that my wedding “team” could put together a television-worthy platinum wedding for me. But that is not my reality, and not in my budget. The same goes for your estate team. Your team should give you the courtesy of consulting with each other to help you form your plan. While consulting, they may form various recommendations that will cost money to implement. Budget out what you can implement and form a plan of your priorities. Perhaps this year is the year you pay to update your estate plan, next year is the year you pay to formulate a new financial plan, and the year after is the year in which you will make new real estate investments. Tell your team your budget, and they will find a way to work within it.
Do Not Do It Yourself
We have endless resources on the internet from which we can learn how to do things ourselves. I like to think I could put together my whole wedding without the help of professionals. I am creative and hands on. But what if it doesn’t come together? Do I want to be making my own floral arrangements the morning of my wedding? Will we forget to pick up the wine and have none to offer our guests who came from near and far? In considering what is important to me, it is important to enjoy my special day with my future husband, and it is important to me that our guests have a lovely time. And ultimately a stress-free time. I am giving up the control of the day to our team, and I know they will do a wonderful job. Just as easily you could go online and find a way to write your own trust. Do you know what the sections of that trust mean, and why they are included? Did the online document let you personalize the specific instructions you want to include for your children? Do you understand how to fund your trust? Do not risk leaving your plans for your family, future, and assets in a faulty document you pieced together online. Entrust the professionals in your community, and they can help implement your plan, whether it is your wedding plan, or your estate plan. Happy planning!
Christine Ellingsen is from the Bay Area, and transitioned to San Diego seven years ago to attend law school at the University of San Diego. She now calls Encinitas home; where she lives with her fiance and her dog, a “chiweenie”, named Tyson. Prior to her law career, Christine worked in the business sector in both Irvine and New York City. Her eye for contracts and detail sparked her interest in the law. She is in her fourth year of practice, and primarily works in the field of trust and estates. Her passion for helping families formulate plans for their future and loved ones, along with personal experiences with her beloved grandparents, has made estate planning a natural fit. If you don’t find Christine working, you’ll find her at the beach in Cardiff or on a hike with Tyson!