"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..." - Ecclesiastes 3:1 (TNIV)
"At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret spending time with a husband, a friend, a child or a parent." - Barbara Bush
None of us know when our journey through life will come to an end. And yet, how often do we hear our friends and family say they'll take care of an important task “some day”. How many times have we made such statements ourselves?
Stephen Covey is the author of one of my favorite books, the best-selling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Mr. Covey wrote that if we want to be effective, we must focus most of our attention and efforts on dealing with important things before they become urgent. If we follow his advice, we tend to take care of things that are important to us before the press of urgency causes us to forget them or deal with them in a less-than-optimal way.
One of the more important things we tend to put off is making arrangements for distribution of our possessions to our loved ones when we pass on. If we don't make those arrangements, state law will.
And the choices made by the legislature may not be the ones we would make. For example, we may not want our children or grandchildren to receive sizable amounts of money when they turn 18 because we know they are too immature to manage the funds wisely. Yet, without a distribution plan, that's precisely what the law requires.
At Northland Law, our mission is to build relationships with our clients and their families that will transcend the generations. We do this by learning what is most important to you and offering seasoned guidance and counsel to assure your assets will pass to your loved ones in ways that will help them flourish and, when necessary, provide resources for care of children with special needs.
When we think of assets, our thoughts usually focus first on our money and possessions. If you choose to engage Northland Law to prepare your asset disposition plan, we will work with you to identify your assets and design a set of documents that will accomplish the goals we help you flesh out during our planning meetings. Most clients' plans will be built around a living trust – a mechanism that allows you to use and control your assets during life and assures the remaining financial assets pass to your loved ones at specified times and without the expense and delay of going to court for probate.
But perhaps the most important assets we can transfer to future generations are our stories (the things that happened to us during life that helped shape us into the people we are), the wisdom we have gained, and our dreams for what each of our loved ones can accomplish by taking full advantage of all we are passing on to them. With these thoughts in mind, we offer all our clients a creative way to pass on these intellectual assets to their loved ones through what we call “human capital conversations”.
These human assets, which have taken a lifetime to accumulate, are frequently overlooked by other estate planning practitioners, even though they are often more valuable to one's survivors than money and “things”.
Because we so strongly believe that passing on human assets is of paramount importance – but is not perceived as urgent and therefore postpone-able – we decided to build human capital conversations into our planning process. Our hope is that sharing your intellectual, moral, and spiritual assets will become an “important to do today” activity rather than being “just another thing to do someday”. Stated another way, we hope you see making sure your “story” doesn't disappear from history as a high-value proposition.
For more information about how we help you pass on your possessions and your human assets so you can leave a true legacy to your loved ones, please contact us.
If you choose to hire us to prepare your estate plan, you will be eligible to join our VIC Program. VIC is the plan we've established for our “Very Important Clients”. As a VIC member, you may call or email us as many times as you wish to ask any questions you have about “anything legal” that may concern you. No more need to take the risk that you understand all the aspects of a situation because you are concerned about how much you'll be billed for an answer. VIC members pay a nominal fixed monthly fee!