If you look at your environment right now, as you read this, just take a moment to observe some item that you can see. You can see it, you can judge how far away it is, you know its colour and size relative to other items in your environment. If it is close enough to you, you could reach out and touch that thing, and you can be certain that it exists in this moment. You can also probably be quite certain that it was there 5 minutes ago. What about 30 minutes ago? Or 30 days ago, or 30 years ago? Now think about the future – will that thing be there in 10 seconds? 10 minutes? 10 days? 10 years?
This principle of observing the certainty of today should be applied when you are looking at your estate planning. You know with more certainty what your situation is today than you do about tomorrow or next year’s situation. Your family structure, the assets you own, your intentions and goals for those assets. These are relatively well known today. When you are making your will, or are structuring your plans for the future, it is all to easy to get confused by the “what if’s” that may happen. What if … you go bankrupt, or win the lottery?... you have lots of grandchildren by the time you pass away?... your children pass away before you?... you meet somebody new?
Start your estate planning and will writing by thinking about today and using that certainty to structure your plan.
Here’s a handy trick to use: ask yourself, “if I had passed away last week, how would I like my estate to be distributed today?” That brings the certainty of today into play, and you can start structuring your will and your other estate planning accordingly.