10 Things you can do to help Planet Earth…. Even after death!
When it comes to doing what we can to save the planet, we all want to do what we can—but did you know you can actually continue your desire to make a positive impact even in your death?
It’s done through your estate planning. Estate planning is simply determining what will happen to your assets in the event of your death or incapacitation. When estate planning is done thoughtfully and with sustainability in mind, it can have several Earth-friendly benefits. By considering the environment and adopting eco-conscious practices, you can leave a positive impact on the planet and future generations which is what most of my clients want.
Here are 10 practices and their benefits::
1. Reduced Resource Consumption: Proper estate planning can help minimize the unnecessary use of resources. For example, by designating beneficiaries and specifying how your assets should be distributed, you can avoid lengthy legal battles and paperwork, reducing paper consumption and the environmental impact associated with legal proceedings.
2. Efficient Asset Distribution: By planning your estate well in advance, you can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. This can help prevent the wasteful liquidation of assets and properties that might occur without a clear plan in place.
3. Charitable Giving: Estate planning allows you to allocate a portion of your assets to charitable causes and organizations that are dedicated to environmental conservation and sustainability. This can have a lasting positive impact on the environment and support causes you care about.
4. Minimized Environmental Footprint: By making eco-friendly choices in your estate plan, such as selecting green burial options, you can reduce your environmental footprint even in death. Green burials typically involve biodegradable caskets or urns and natural burial sites, which have a lower impact on the environment compared to traditional burial methods.
5. Conservation Easements: If you own land with ecological value, you can use estate planning tools like conservation easements. According to the National Conservation Easement Database, these easements are “voluntary, legal agreements that permanently limit the use of the land in order to protect its conservation values.” They are used to protect and preserve the natural habitat, preventing future development and ensuring the land remains ecologically valuable.
6. Digital Assets and Paperless Estate Administration: Consider storing important documents digitally and encouraging paperless estate administration where possible. This reduces the need for physical storage and printing, conserving resources and reducing waste. Trust & Will has a great article on What are Digital Assets and Why Should I Care.
7. Sustainable Investments: If your estate includes investments, consider aligning them with your environmental values by investing in companies or funds that prioritize sustainability, renewable energy, or environmentally responsible practices. Most financial professionals can help you find the best investments for you. t.
8. Family Legacy and Environmental Values: Use your estate plan to pass on your environmental values to future generations. You can include provisions that encourage your heirs to continue supporting eco-friendly practices and charitable causes related to the environment.
9. Energy-Efficient Real Estate: If you own real estate, consider implementing energy-efficient upgrades and including provisions in your estate plan that encourage sustainability practices for the properties you pass on to heirs.
10. Educational Trusts: Create educational trusts to support family members or beneficiaries interested in pursuing environmentally focused education, such as degrees in environmental science, sustainable agriculture, or conservation.
By incorporating these Earth-friendly considerations into your estate planning, you can leave a legacy that aligns with your environmental values and contributes to a more sustainable future. Additionally, it can serve as an inspiration to others to consider the environmental impact of their estate planning decisions.
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