Estate planning can ease end-of-life issues

By Amirah Razman

Christine Courtney, a St. Anthony Park estate planning attorney, spoke about wills and estate planning at Centennial United Methodist Church on March 2.

Her presentation covered administrating estate plans, how to put an estate plan together, gathering documents for the estate plan and selecting a fiduciary to help with the plan.

Courtney’s goal was to convince people to consider informing their families of their end-of-life plans, especially those involving possession of physical and monetary items.

“Most people do care a little bit about what it looks like when they’re gone,” Courtney said. “The reason that people often do an estate plan comes from their own set of goals.”

Some goals include maintaining a positive relationship with their loved ones and having control over their affairs, according to Courtney.

“Many of my clients come to me because they’ve seen [relationships] unfold badly when there wasn’t a plan,” Courtney said. “They want to have an (estate) plan in place to protect the emotional realities of their loved ones while they’re grieving their death.”

The process of creating estate plans and wills can be emotional, Courtney said.

As an estate planning attorney, Courtney said she helps people navigate the emotional process of creating an estate plan aligned with their goals.

She said many people have mixed feelings about creating an estate plan due to the heaviness of thinking about their death along with any life problems.

“The best way to overcome it is talking it out with someone, because the longer it sits in your head, the bigger the problem is and the harder it can be to resolve it,” Courtney said.

Once people address their needs and concerns, they begin to feel good about creating an estate plan.

One facet of people’s lives that Courtney helps to address is how to handle digital accounts once someone has passed, an important topic to navigate during the planning process.

“I spend a lot of time talking about how you lay a path for people when it comes to finding your stuff, going through your digital accounts, taking down social media,” Courtney said.

Making wills and estate plans ensures that people are making the right decisions about how their affairs are handled, and by whom, according to Courtney.

“Planning can really reduce that burden and it can change how people experience their own grief process,” Courtney said. 

Amirah Razman is a University of Minnesota journalism student and an intern writer for the Bugle

Christine Courtney. Submitted photo.

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