There are many opinions on the keys to success and what it means to live a happy, fulfilling lifestyle. Hard work and discipline can get you far, but if you are hoping to achieve lasting success and a real sense of freedom, there is no substitution for long-term planning. Research shows that around 25 percent of our happiness hinges on our ability to navigate stress. Planning is one of the most effective ways to mitigate that stress, so it goes without saying that long-term planning can have a similar effect on your estate and loved ones.
Planning as Prevention
You may not be able to prevent the worst-case scenarios of life from happening to you and your loved ones. You can, however, make plans for how you might handle such incidents. If you are anxious about what might happen to your minor children should you get into a car accident, for instance, an estate plan can help you rest a lot easier and sleep well at night knowing your preference for who should be your children’s temporary and permanent guardian has been spelled out in advance.
Estate planning can also reduce stress by reframing the way we consider those worst-case scenario events. We do not have control over what happens in life, but we can control the way we respond to the circumstances we are faced with. By preparing in advance, we are able to reduce the stress associated with the loss of a loved one, incapacity, or the distribution of our assets after death.
The Connection Between Happiness and Planning
The sheer act of planning can boost our mood as well. A recent study found that the greatest spike in happiness in subjects came during the planning phase of an upcoming vacation. Simply beginning to consider your options and putting plans into place results in greater happiness.
While estate planning is hardly a vacation, there is a universality to these findings. Think back to the last time you made a plan. If you are like most people, your brain came alive as you weighed your options and made decisions. The firing of these synapses boost your mood and allow you to feel more relaxed in your decision-making process. A similar effect can be felt both during and after you have completed your estate plans.