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Did you know that 7 out of 10 people don’t have an estate plan or a will?

If you’re in the minority, my hat’s off to you. 

Many entrepreneurs love nothing more than solving a problem and earning a profit; however, they don’t apply that same skill to leaving a legacy.

David Edey isn’t surprised by this. In fact, he hears stories about this regularly. David is an Author, Speaker, and Certified Executor Advisor (CEA) with an important message. 

On the latest episode of The Art of Making Things Happen with Steve Sims, we talked about the unsexy topic of getting your affairs in order to leave a legacy, not a mess

The Problem

In David’s book, Executor Help: How to Settle an Estate, Pick and Executor, and Avoid Family Fights, he explores the topic of how to leave a legacy for your loved ones.

David explains that there are three reasons why so many people don’t have an estate plan or a will.

He says the problem boils down to three types of people: 

  1. Avoiders 
  2. Procrastinators
  3. Apathetic

Avoiders are people who don’t like to talk about the topic, so they never bring it up until it’s too late.

On the other hand, Procrastinators know the importance of the topic but put it off because they don’t see it as urgent or pressing.

Finally, Apathetic types have the view that it isn’t their problem. They don’t do this for selfish reasons but see death as an escape from problems. Nonetheless, that thinking can cause family members to be left to clean up the financial mess. 

In all of these instances, it leads to chaos to figure out the mess of inheritance for the family they leave behind.

A Real-Life Story of Procrastination

Tony Shay was the founder and CEO of the iconic brand Zappos until 2009, when he sold the company to Amazon for $1.2 billion. 

Shay walked away with $214 million from the deal. 

In all respects, he lived the American Dream. 

In August 2020, he retired and stepped away with a fortune worth $850 million. 

The real tragedy of this story came in November when he died in a house fire just two weeks shy of his 47th birthday.

He died with no will and no succession plan.

The mess left behind would take his family years to figure out a succession plan while grieving his loss. 

While this is an extreme case of procrastination in estate planning, it’s still relevant for all the entrepreneurs who figure they’ll get to it someday.

Estate planning is the most important love letter you can ever leave your family. 

It ensures that everything is organized, planned for, and taken care of, leaving the family to only worry about how to mourn your loss.

The Solution

According to Edey, the most essential first step is preparing a will and picking an executor for your estate.

Next, you want to make sure you talk with your family at least once a year about the estate and any changes that may have occurred. 

The more you can normalize the process of talking about the estate with your family, the easier it becomes when it’s time to address the will and estate plan. 

The right executor can navigate interpersonal issues left over after you’re gone, but if your family is aware of the estate, no one will be surprised.

That can lead to less acrimony about inheritance. 

Are You Prepared? 

You have a few options if you could use a little guidance in planning your estate.

First, you can pick up a copy of David’s new book, Executor Help.

If you’re looking for one-on-one attention, you can take the quiz on David’s website.   If you’re not ready for all that yet, he has loads of free resources you can check out.

Are you looking for excellent interviews about Business, Entrepreneurship, and more? 

Then check out The Art of Making Things Happen Podcast with Steve Sims.

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