Paul Berman is an estate attorney in Miami, Florida, at Berman & Berman P.A., a father-son estate law firm. Dealing with estate planning can be difficult. But Berman said it’s worth the peace of mind you get from knowing your loved ones will be taken care of in the future. We talked with him about the most important and surprising parts of the process.
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This interview has been lightly edited for style and clarity.
What’s the most important aspect of estate planning?
I think from a mentality standpoint, the thing people need to wrap their heads around is you're not doing estate planning for you. You're doing it to communicate when you're not able to communicate anymore, how your assets you've worked hard to get are left. You don't want family members fighting with another over it. I think the mentality of most people is that they don't want to talk about it. Put the effort into it, be efficient, put time in it, and get it right the first time. You don’t want to have to change it later on.
What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when creating a trust or will?
I think the No. 1 thing people make the mistake of is not doing it. My motto is you're never too late until you're too late. It's easy to say "I'll do it next week."
What surprises people about the estate planning process?
When people are thinking about their beneficiaries and choose their kids who are typically 30 years younger than them, I have to ask them, “what if they die before you?” It catches people off guard and it’s saddening to go through this process but you have to do it and get things right. With that being said, it's not as painful a process as people think — you’re doing it for your loved ones. That’s the main reason why people should be doing estate planning. It’s amazing to see the kind of peace of mind people get once the process is complete.
Image: Nastia Kobzarenko