Critter Corner: What Does a Taking a “Holistic” Approach to Estate Planning Mean?

Hayek 1Dear Hayek,
In sitting down with my husband to discuss our estate planning, I’m realizing that planning our legacy can be a complicated process. Navigating how to pass on financial assets, real estate, and personal possessions is certainly stressful. In fact, we’ve been putting off estate planning for years due to concerns about difficult conversations with family and fears of confronting our own mortality.
Now that we are taking action and doing our planning, my friend told me that we want to work with a firm that takes a “holistic approach” to estate planning. But what does “taking a holistic approach” really mean? I’ve seen it mentioned several times, but I’m not sure of the meaning. Thanks for your help!
Holly Styck
Dear Holly,
When planning your legacy and what you’ll leave behind, financial assets and real estate are just part of a person’s legacy. While finances are an important aspect of planning, deserving plenty of time and thoughtfulness, your legacy includes much more — such as family traditions, fond memories and meaningful valuables to the loved ones you leave behind.
The Farr Law Firm takes a holistic approach to helping our clients plan their legacies. Holistic law, similar to holistic medicine, strives to provide services that take into account the whole person, including their emotions, values, and unique family dynamics. Finances and items of value get a lot of attention, but so do family traditions and important life lessons.
These are some things you should know about taking a holistic approach to estate planning:
• Holistic attorneys strive to wholly honor and respect the dignity and integrity of each individual;
• We listen intentionally and deeply in order to gain complete understanding of the clients’ needs;
• We encourage compassion, reconciliation, forgiveness and healing wherever needed.
• We work to help clients find opportunity for resolution in the midst of conflict and encourage the use of mediation and/or collaborative law whenever appropriate.
Melissa Street of Pepperdine University School of Law published “A Holistic Approach to Estate Planning: Paramount in Protecting Your Family, Your Wealth, and Your Legacy.” In it she uses the quote, “Estate Planning Concerns Death and Taxes… [But it] is primarily about a larger subject, and that is people.” She describes holistic estate planning as “interested parties discussing the estate plan openly to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and that any possible conflicts can be identified and remedied prior to death.” In addition, she says, “while typical estate planning focuses mainly on tax benefits, holistic estate planning, while still allowing for tax benefits, also addresses personal issues that typically go unaddressed.” She discusses how holistic planning helps avoid court battles and the role of mediation rather than litigation should family conflicts still arise.
Why We Take a Holistic Approach
The holistic approach to estate planning leads us to take the time to learn about clients’ family dynamics, values, and big picture goals for their families and their biggest concerns for the future. In addition to drafting legal documents for our clients such as Financial Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives, Wills, and Trusts, we assist clients who are interested in developing non-legal tools such as the drafting of personal histories and legacy letters using our own proprietary 4 Needs Advance Medical Directive® and tools such as the Legacy Stories Reminiscence Program, and also providing full-service financial planning when desired and comprehensive financial education to clients and their families.
Hope this is helpful,
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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.