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The most vivid image I have of May in my mind is her sitting up in her hospital bed, proudly signing her will. She was smiling, proud, and regal. She was the queen, and all of us participating in her signing ceremony were her subjects.

Years later, after I became an attorney, I redesigned her estate plan based on my experience probating her will and what I knew about her, her family situation, and her values. The most important thing the experience taught me is that you are the king or queen of your estate, and your survivors are your loyal subjects. They will still look to you for guidance after you are gone and deeply want their decisions to please you.

As a good king or queen, you love your subjects and want to make it easy for them to please you. You won’t leave them with forms that you filled out and expect them to perform their duties. You will think about all of the decisions they will have to make and decide ahead of time so they don’t have to. Moreover, you will leave them with stories and share your values so that they can more easily make those decisions that you can’t make for them. Finally, you will anticipate problems they will have executing your will and give them any tools that you can to help your subjects resolve them.

Estate Planning isn’t a democracy. You want to minimize factions, fighting, and decision making by giving as many specific instructions as you can. Get the advice you need from your advisors and then go and be king or queen. It will free your loved ones’ minds to think on better things.

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