Grief has emotional and pragmatic sides. An estate plan helps you work through both

Estate planning isn’t just about the pragmatic nuts and bolts of what to do with your property after you pass away. It can also help families prepare for and grieve loss healthily, especially when it involves kids and grief.

This came home to me personally, when my kids and I watched the movie Over the Moon together. Loss is part of life, and I deal with that every day in my work helping people prepare and manage estates. I’m also a parent. I’ve learned how integral estate planning is in helping people work through not only the emotional, but the pragmatic, sides of loss when it comes to kids and grief.

About Over the Moon

Over the Moon writer Audrey Wells worked through five years of cancer treatments. When her cancer turned out to be terminal, she wanted to create something that would help her family and others prepare for and deal with loss. Wells wrote Over the Moon before she passed away in 2018. She knew that she would not live to see the movie come to fruition. Her vision and story lived on, in a universal message that kids can understand but that anyone can learn from and benefit from.

Originally released in 2020 on Netflix, Over The Moon shows us a young girl whose mother has passed away. Throughout the movie, we see the girl and her father grieve, and ultimately work out how to share their grief, experience it, and then learn to put life and loss in context as part of their lives. Ultimately, Over the Moon is about loss, both how we experience it and how we make it part of our ongoing lives.

Wells wrote and made this movie in part for her husband and daughter, not only as a way for them to remember her, but to help them find their path through grief. Yet the movie also reminds us all that loss is something everyone faces, in different ways and throughout different parts of their lives.

Grief, kids, and your estate

Watching Over the Moon with my four kids brought home how much of what we do in an estate plan is about both the personal and pragmatic facets of loss.

Common components of an estate plan can include:

  • How to care for and provide for minor children
  • What to leave to grown children
  • Resources for someone who needs ongoing care
  • Building intergenerational wealth in the next generation

When we talk about estate planning as adults and among our family members, we are also telling them we care. We care about their future, and we are thinking beyond the present moment so that even when we are gone, we have made arrangements to help them along in the way we thought was best at the time.

No matter what, grieving a loved one can be a hard, fraught, long-term process. Knowing an estate plan is ready to go doesn’t necessarily heal or lessen grief. But it can remove worry, and it’s a reminder that there was love and care in life, and that they continue even once a loved one has passed on.

Kids don’t have to understand estate planning

Kids don’t need to understand estate planning, but they can understand when someone is doing something for their well-being and future. Even if they don’t understand something now, that comprehension can happen in due time.

An estate plan helps support loved ones. It can make it easier for people to work through grief. When the terms of an estate are clear, and the logistics of dealing with property are being handled in a set-out, constructive process, the sting of loss can be easier to bear.

Understanding the legalities around estate planning aren’t required. But kids do understand feeling loved, cared for, included, and provided for.

An estate plan is part of grief’s emotional and practical sides

Estate planning is part of the grief process. It’s a way to prepare yourself and those close to you for eventual loss. For me and my family, watching Over the Moon helped us talk about grief and loss, such as what it’s like to lose someone you love, and then how to work through grieving and make that grief part of one’s overall life.

I’d suggest having Over the Moon on your list as a way to open up conversations in your family about grief and loss. It can be hard to think through the particulars around you or someone you love passing away. Something like Over the Moon can also help you or another adult start figuring out your approach to your own estate. Estate planning can assist families in the grief process. And ultimately, an estate plan is about how to provide for the loved ones we leave behind.