I was invited to referee a basketball game on Championship Saturday for the Colorado High School basketball playoffs this year. It was my first year working the final day / weekend of the season. I have been assigned plenty of playoff games in previous years, but I have never been given the opportunity to referee a championship game until this season. I was assigned to the 3A Girls Consolation game, so the teams were playing for third place in the State of Colorado.
As referees, we have pre-game meetings where we plan for refereeing the games and discuss how we will work together to get the game right. We talked about different aspects of the game – how we would rotate positions between the three referees, how we would handle certain situations like double whistles or unusual plays, and how we wanted to let the players enjoy the game…and not insert ourselves into the game too much. Especially for the players who were going to play in this final game, we wanted the players to be the focus of the game, certainly not us – the referees.
Players are who everybody wants to watch in a basketball game. Certainly there are some famous coaches, especially in the college or pro game, but I don’t know that I have ever had anyone go to a basketball game just to watch a coach. Coaches are there to help players work together and be better as a team, but ultimately the players decide the outcome of the game. Players are the focus of the game. They are the ones who shoot, pass, rebound, play defense, and are rightfully the correct focus of the game.
In an estate plan, you are the player. You are the one who makes the decisions, and you are the focus of the estate plan. The estate plan is mostly about you, and what you want. Certainly an estate planning attorney can help you achieve what you want in an estate plan, but ultimately what happens in an estate plan is up to you.
Players Focus on Skills, and You Focus on Your Estate Plan
Player skill is a large focus of players, and rightfully so. Without players exercising their skills in shooting, passing, rebounding, or playing defense, there would be no point in playing the game. In estate planning, you are the player. You want to have your wishes and desires carried out, and that is absolutely the correct way to view the game. Unlike an estate plan is not a contest of skill between players, so the analogy is not perfect, but your wishes and desires are the essential part of an estate plan.
Some players see a basketball game as a contest of individual skills and abilities. This is absolutely the correct way to view the game, as a player. Not every player always sees the bigger picture of winning the game as a team, but that is OK. These players want to show how skilled they are at shooting, passing, rebounding, or playing defense. To them, the game is a contest of skill between teams, and the more skilled a player is, the more likely a team is to be triumphant in a game.
As you create an estate plan, you are not quite as worried about the level of your skill in planning an estate as a player might be in the level of their play. You are not trying to set up a superior estate plan, or do better than another person who creates an estate plan, but you are trying to set up an estate plan to bring your wishes and desires to fruition. You succeed when your wishes and desires are carried out, not when they are superior to someone else’s wishes or desires.
A Basketball Game As a Competition, but Estate Planning Is Not
In a basketball game, player skills are often compared in the basketball game’s competition, but unlike a baseball game, your wishes and desires are not judged based on their comparison to what another person wishes or desires. Instead, you succeed when your wishes and desires are successfully carried out, regardless of what any other estate plan might say. Players have skill, and you have wishes and desires for your assets. Without your wishes and desires being the main focus of your estate plan, there would be no point in setting up an estate plan.
A Basketball Game Is About the Players, Your Estate Plan is About You
During a basketball game, all eyes are on the players. Everyone wants to see what will happen. Will a player make a great pass, or will one soar through the air for a highlight dunk? Will a long distance three pointer at the buzzer win the game, or will one team be so far ahead at the end of the game that the outcome will not be in doubt? Will there be plays that make the highlight reel, or will there be plays that players wish they could have back or forget? In most games, there is a combination of all of these things. Players always want to perform to the best of their ability. However, no player is perfect.. Players are responsible for the level of play and skill they exert, but also are responsible for their own mistakes.
In estate planning, you don’t want to have mistakes in your estate plan, since you can’t correct them if you are gone. You don’t need highlight reel types of plays either, but you don’t want to have some sort of glaring error or omission in your estate plan that would cause problems after you are gone. You want your estate plan to reflect the best of what you want, and not leave room for error.
You are the one who will decide who gets your assets, and when and how the assets will be distributed. If you have minor children, you decide who will raise them if you are gone, as your guardians. You are able to build the essential elements of your own estate plan. You get to decide what happens in your own estate plan.
You Are The Most Important Player In Your Estate Plan
Basketball games have players who fulfill various roles. Some players score more, while others are more focused on passing, rebounding, playing defense, or other parts of the game. Each player is valuable and necessary, but there are awards for the most valuable player on a team or in a league.
You are the most valuable player for your own estate plan. You are the most essential part of your estate plan, and without you, there would be no need for an estate plan, and no need for setting up an estate plan. Let me repeat that: You are the most important part of your estate plan – you are the most valuable player!
Of course, setting up an estate plan to carry out your own wishes and desires is not something you need to do by yourself. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you. A good estate planning attorney will listen to what you want, ask questions to clarify your desires or to further expand on what you want, and help design an estate plan to accomplish what you want. Even in helping establish your estate plan, the estate planning attorney is focused on you. Let me help you set up your estate plan – and make an appointment by clicking below.