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Estate planning: the only constant is change

Aimee D. Griffin

I regularly speak proudly about being a New Year’s resolutioner. I always have resolutions about taking steps to be more healthy, wealthy, and wise! However, as I reflect on the goal of health, I define it differently now. I remember when the health goal was to run a half-marathon. Healthy now is to be able to move without sound effects. I want to make sure to stave off the challenges of brittle bones. Wealth and wisdom have different definitions to me now as I age, too. Our perspective changes with time.

As I celebrate 10 years of contributing to The Washington Informer, I am reminded of what has happened over those 10 years. The past decade has brought many opportunities to clarify our values and our vision. We have viewed our rights and our privileges from different perspectives in these years. Our country appears different through the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations. The things we took for granted are very precious now.

Ten years ago, my children were just making their way as adults. Now, I have grandchildren. We have spent the past four years in the throes of a pandemic, with a recent resurgence that again questions how to move through the world. In the past 10 years, I have lost amazing family members and friends through illnesses and accidents. Although we say, “Tomorrow is not promised,” we are always taken by surprise when we lose a loved one.

Estate planning is dynamic because life is dynamic. Along with the change in our values, dreams and hopes, our financial situation changes. We may move from an active income earner to retirement by choice or by demand. We may move from caring for loved ones to being cared for. We may move from having a large circle of “family” to an intimate number of close loved ones.

We live our lives in various stages. I consider the first part of our adult life as the accumulation stage. At this point, we are starting out and trying to find that which we want to build our comfort levels. We are securing our base standard and moving throughout the world to find where we find peace and what is necessary. We are building relationships that conform with our sense of self and being.

Then, we protect our treasures once we have been secured in the conservation stage. This stage may mean that we have acquired what we need, and we are moving to what we want.  With that in mind, we can supply clarity on who we want in our circle of influence and how to support and protect them. We can build a cocoon of protection for how we live and preserve our assets. This initiative-taking strategy can enable us to be forward-thinking in building a plan for multigenerational wealth building and asset protection. As we change, our circumstances change and our loved ones change. We need to be vigilant in protecting our goals and dreams. We must be mindful about laying out our strategic plan for success.

The final stage is the transition of our possessions to the ones who will receive after us. This transition compels and propels the next generation. The continuum of our lives is fluid, and it will happen if we plan or by default. There is joy in planning strategically for the legacy to build and grow with anticipation. Happy New Year!

The article first ran in the The Washington Informer and was published on WordinBlack.com.

estate planning, opinion