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Jean-Philippe Thought Leadership Blog

How I Learned that Estate Planning is an Act of Love


When I joined ClearEstate in May 2022, I had a notional idea of what estate planning and estate settlement was. I knew that having a will was important, and that estate planning was a way to ensure that inheritances weren't eaten up by taxes. But like many others, I’ve always shied away from the subject. When you talk about estate planning, you’re actively thinking about death: your own mortality, that of your parents, your spouse, or another loved one; And no one likes to think about that.

After coming on board as the VP of Strategy and Corporate Development at ClearEstate, I quickly realized something: We’re doing both ourselves and our families a disservice in avoiding the topic of estate planning. And while it may feel morbid, awkward or depressing to discuss the financial details of someone passing away, it’s quite the opposite, actually. It’s an incredible act of empathy and love, which is why we do what we do.

At ClearEstate, we deal with some of the most challenging moments in people’s lives: The death of a loved one, the struggles of caring for incapacitated family members, and the legal, financial, and emotional minefields that are left behind for families to navigate when someone passes away. Because they’re topics that no one likes to talk about until it’s too late, ClearEstate has made it its mission to help families get through these tough periods while ensuring that any issues, be it taxes, legal paperwork, or confusion over inheritance laws, are addressed with efficiency and empathy.

Already, In my short time at ClearEstate, I learned some astonishing facts about the financial and emotional costs of dying in North America. Most estate executors tasked with settling an estate feel utterly unprepared for the role, with 71% reporting that they’ve never discussed the particulars of their loved one’s estate with them before they passed. Coupled with the fact that annually, billions of dollars are spent on estate settlement fees alone, families and individuals are left rudderless, financially drained, and confused during one of the most difficult times of their lives. That’s why it’s so important to have these hard conversations as soon as possible.

Over half of all North Americans don’t have a will. Writing a will is something many people tend to put off: It’s unpleasant to think about, and we always think we’ll have more time. But sometimes, tragedy happens when you’re the least prepared, and dying without a will can potentially leave a financial and bureaucratic obstacle course.

Without a valid will, there is no one appointed to represent the estate and no way to carry out what might have been the deceased’s wishes. Families are then left navigating an arduous court process to appoint a representative, and even a legal battle if they disagree. Furthermore, Jurisdictional legislation will dictate how assets are to be distributed … and it doesn’t always work out the way one might expect.

To top it all off, there are tax implications on death that often come as a surprise to many families. If a careful estate plan hasn’t been done, often there can be a hefty tax liability without any consideration for how it’s going to be paid. Families are left scrambling to understand what’s needed and what options they might have.

The fact is that, although we may not like talking about these issues, the hardships of settling an estate affect us all. Families can be torn apart by grief, resentment, and miscommunication; Individuals can break under the pressure of trying to settle one’s estate while being completely unprepared for the task.

I’ve personally had to live through the tension between family members resulting from my grandfather’s complex estate settlement. I’ve witnessed family members refusing to speak to one another for years, forgoing holidays and family celebrations all because of opaque and complicated legal and financial settlement processes coupled with the emotional stress of grief… no family should ever have to face this.

That’s why I proudly stand behind ClearEstate’s mission to combine human expertise and state-of-the-art technology to ensure everyone has access to affordable, empathetic, and efficient estate planning and settlement services. Taking the time to plan your estate is an incredible act care, as is fulfilling your loved one’s wishes and ensuring their estate is taken care of in the way they’ve envisioned it.

We’re here to help families navigate these difficult conversations together, and be there for estate executors in times of need - one estate at a time.

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