There is a saying that even the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. In our experience, the estate plans that go awry often do so because of a disregard for the human side of the process. 

On one hand, you have your trusts, wills, powers of attorney, healthcare directives and so forth. On the other, you have the people who either support those legal instruments or subvert them. 

Organizing your efforts

There are certainly some common goals in estate plans. For example, you probably want to preserve your wealth as it transfers from one generation to the next. However, there is no universal purpose of estate planning, nor is there a single method that works for everybody. 

When you begin the process, you may feel like there are too many alternatives, or that the typical techniques do not apply to your situation. Organizing your efforts based on your specific goals and priorities helps you identify the best course forward. 

Communicating your wishes

Part of the purpose of traditional estate planning instruments, such as wills, is to communicate your wishes to your loved ones after you die. These documents become legally enforceable representations of what you want for your property. 

You might also choose to supplement this with relevant discussions, if appropriate. This could give you a face-to-face opportunity to discuss the future of your family — an opportunity that a will would not provide. 

Following through on your plans 

It may seem simple, but following through on the plans you make is often an important element of success. The most common example relates to trusts. After you establish certain types of trusts, you must fund them — i.e., transfer assets to them — for them to be effective. 

We find that it is often more efficient and effective to tailor the technical aspect of estate planning to these human concerns. Rather than pore over the details of various trusts, foundations and so on, ask yourself a simple question: What is your vision for the future of your family?