When less than 25% of adults do any end-of-life planning, including wills and trusts, advance medical directives and pre-need funeral planning, how can estate planning attorneys help increase the percentage of those who plan ahead?
People want to know about estate planning issues. However, just as many loathe to visit a funeral home to plan ahead, many hesitate to visit an estate planning attorney. Here are three outside-the-box ideas to help break down resistance to discussing these serious topics.
Explore death discussion festivals
If you’re in the San Francisco area, April 16, 2018, is the start of Reimagine SF, a seven-day festival with 175 events to get people to explore death and celebrate life. Events include workshops on advance directives and estate planning essentials, in addition to Death Cafes, comedy routines, films, speakers, and many other happenings.
But this is not the only such festival in the works. Encore Before I Die festivals are being planned for this fall in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Louisville, Kentucky, and other Reimagine festivals are coming later this year to New York City and Cleveland, Ohio. Be on the lookout for other grassroots end-of-life conversation events in your local market.
Attend or host your own Death Cafe
More than 6,057 Death Cafes have been held in 56 countries since September, 2011. These meet-ups offer individuals the opportunity to talk about what’s in their hearts and on their minds about mortality issues.
Hosting a Death Cafe helps you build relationships within your community with people who are already willing to talk about end-of-life issues. The Death Cafe website (www.DeathCafe.com) lists events that are being held by city. If there are none in your area, you can host your own. There’s a starter guide with great tips and advice on how to hold your own event here.
Just remember the key tenets of holding a Death Cafe: no selling of anything or leading people to adopt a particular point of view or conclusion. It’s okay to provide your business cards or flyers if people want them.
Hold your own Movie Nights
Consider hosting free screenings of classic or comedy films that provide opportunities to discuss estate planning issues. Consider these films and the estate planning lessons they impart:
- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) – A salty sea captain dies without a will and haunts the house he wanted to make a home for retired sailors.
- Grand Theft Parsons (2003) – Based on the true story of musician Gram Parson’s death and unusual funeral arrangements, this comedy includes legal wrangling over his possessions and music rights.
- The Six Wives of Henry Lefay (2009) – As the title implies, this man was married a number of times. All of those wives want a say in the funeral arrangements and estate issues in this comedy starring Tim Allen.
Consider hosting screening events at your firm as a community outreach event, with your informed comments and Q&A time afterward. Provide popcorn and sodas, and you’ve got yourself a fun event that can help get the conversation started!
If you are going to use films as a community outreach event at your firm, make sure you have a license from the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation to legally show these films. You may have seen the warnings when watching DVDs about being fined $250,000 and jailed for five years for misuse or copying films. The FBI has better things to do than track down people publicly showing films without a license, but film studios might have other eyes on the lookout for illegal use. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Gail Rubin, CT, is a pioneering death educator who works with companies to connect with baby boomers concerned about end-of-life issues. A featured speaker at TEDxABQ in 2015, she uses humor and film clips to start conversations. She’s the author of three books on end-of-life issues, including A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die and KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die, and the coordinator of the second annual Before I Die ABQ Festival in Albuquerque, NM. In a previous lifetime, she was a public relations professional and an event planner. Learn more at www.AGoodGoodbye.com.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128