Working Wealthy — Prioritize Your Estate Plan

Maybe we should start calling “estate planning” something else. For some people, an “estate plan” feels imposing. Typically, when someone thinks of an “estate,” they think of the English countryside with manicured lawns and a stately mansion like something out of Downton Abbey.

And, while the word “plan” seems a bit less imposing, it still sounds like something absolute—with many steps and complex instructions to be followed. So, if the language around estate planning tends to shut you down, you’re probably in good company. Chances are, many of your friends, family members and colleagues simply don’t want to deal with it, either.

To make estate planning a little more palatable, here are three simple steps to consider for tackling this difficult yet generally essential task:

  1. Start. You must start somewhere, so begin thinking about what matters to you in terms of a legacy. Is it taking care of your family? Who are you thinking about and what do they need? Is it leaving a mark on society? Which causes or charities would you like to focus on? It could even be something like wishing not to end up like others you know. What is it about their situation that you wish to avoid?
  2. Prioritize. Next, you will have some decisions to make about how to prioritize your goals, as there may be trade-offs and compromises to be made. You won’t be able to think clearly about this while you’re doing something else (even if it’s meditating), so take a half-day on the weekend, or whatever time you need, but be sure to give yourself dedicated time to think. And remember that you may need a few sessions to think through your full list of priorities.
  3. Adapt. Even after an estate plan is drafted and executed, it’s not written in stone unless you’ve made irrevocable decisions (rely on your estate planning attorney to help prevent you from mistakenly doing this). The same is true for your priorities. As they change over time, you’ll have the opportunity to update your plan accordingly. Remember to allow time and space for this as well. Effective estate planning shouldn’t be rushed.

Your estate plan is a big deal, but the process doesn’t need to overwhelm you. Focus on what’s most important to you. Try taking it step by step so it feels less daunting. You might imagine concentric circles that start with you and your immediate environment, and then expand to encompass your closest loved ones, your extended family, future generations and the wider community. As you develop your vision, you can work with your Corient Wealth Advisor and legal professionals to crystallize and document your personalized estate plan.

In the end, an estate plan is a tool to help you build a purpose-driven life and legacy that reflects your unique vision and specific values, so it’s valuable to engage wholeheartedly in the process and enjoy the meaningful journey.


Nick Cosky, CFP

Nick Cosky, CFP

Partner, Wealth Advisor

Nick is a Partner, Wealth Advisor in our Itasca, IL, office. In his role, Nick is primarily responsible for introducing prospective clients to the firm. Nick served as the head of legacy firm BDF’s Financial Planning Committee and has participated on the Business Owner Team. He is passionate about the goals-based planning that BDF does for its clients and enjoys focusing on the behavioral aspects of decision-making. Nick is a CFP® professional.


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