It may seem strange to think in terms of military planning when you set out to create your estate plan, but there are some surprising similarities in the way a military action and an estate plan are approached. No two estates are the same which requires an individual approach to each estate plan. Furthermore, estate planning requires what in military terms is referred to as “scenario planning,” meaning that you must consider all possible scenarios before you make decisions.
In a military operation, the key to success, and often survival, is to anticipate all of the possible ways the operation could play out. Basically, consider the worst case scenario and plan accordingly. Estate planning is not so different. Take, for instance, a situation in which you own a small business that you plan to pass on to your two children as equal partners.
They both show an interest in the business now so you simply gift them the business in your estate plan. What happens if one of them decides they no longer want the business? What happens if one of them subsequently develops an alcohol or gambling problem that prevents them from being able to responsibly run the business? Worse still, what happens if one of them winds up in the middle of a nasty divorce and loses his or her share of the business in the divorce?
Any of these scenarios could lead to the failure of your estate plan. The good news though is that with proper scenario planning, you can avoid outcomes like these.