New Year, New Resolutions: Embracing Estate Planning for a Secure Future

January 2, 2024

As the confetti settles post-New Year celebrations and the echoes of "New Year, New Me!" mantras begin to fade, many of us find ourselves setting ambitious resolutions. Yet, a curious phenomenon often occurs: by mid-January, these resolutions seem to slip through our fingers like sand. This cycle of ambition and subsequent abandonment is so prevalent that it has even spawned its own counter-holiday: Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day, observed on January 17th.

But why do we falter? Experts point to the 'fresh-start effect' – a tendency to view significant dates as launching pads for personal reinvention. While this effect spurs initial enthusiasm, it often lacks the sustainability required for long-term commitments. This is especially true for resolutions around weight loss, savings, and other common goals, which fall prey to unrealistic expectations and a lack of concrete planning.

Estate Planning: A Resolution for the Future

In the maze of common resolutions, there's one critical area that frequently gets overlooked: estate planning. Unlike short-term goals, estate planning is a profound resolution with lasting implications. It's about ensuring security and peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones. As we embrace the fresh-start effect this New Year, let's pivot our focus to a resolution that secures our family's future.

Making Estate Planning a S.M.A.R.T Resolution

To avoid the pitfalls of failed resolutions, we can apply the S.M.A.R.T technique to estate planning:

1. Specific: Rather than a vague goal like "I need to do something about my estate," set specific tasks such as "I will create my estate plan by March."

2. Measurable: Create benchmarks to track progress. For instance, "By February, I will have a list of all my assets."

3. Achievable: Ensure your estate planning goals are realistic. If you're unsure about the process, consult with an estate planning attorney to guide you.

4. Relevant: Tailor your estate planning to your current life situation. Whether you're a new parent, a business owner, or nearing retirement, your plan should reflect your unique circumstances.

5. Time-bound: Set deadlines. A goal without a timeline is just a wish. Aim to complete specific tasks within designated time frames.

Behavioral Change Over Outcomes

Estate planning isn't just about outcomes; it's about behavioral change. It's a commitment to regularly update your plan, review your beneficiaries, and ensure your legal documents reflect your current wishes. Consistency in these actions is key to effective estate planning.

Milestones and Rewards

Estate planning can be overwhelming, but breaking it down into smaller steps makes it manageable. Celebrate reaching milestones, such as finalizing your advance healthcare directive or setting up a trust. These small victories are significant steps in safeguarding your family's future.

Accountability: A Cornerstone of Success

Share your estate planning goals with someone you trust – a family member, a friend, or an estate planning attorney. This accountability can be a powerful motivator, turning your resolution into action.

A Resolution Worth Keeping

As we step into the New Year, let's shift our focus from fleeting resolutions to something more enduring. Estate planning might not be the most glamorous of New Year's resolutions, but it's certainly one of the most important. It's a resolution that extends beyond self-improvement, reaching into the realm of family, legacy, and peace of mind.

At Stouffer Legal, we understand the importance of this resolution. We're here to guide you every step of the way, ensuring this New Year's resolution is one that brings lasting security and comfort to you and your loved ones. Let’s make this year count.

The attorneys and professional staff at Stouffer Legal can help jump-start your New Year’s Resolution list by getting your estate plan underway. To learn how to get the process started visit

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