Wealth.com has been named a Finalist for 3 WealthManagement.com 2024 Industry Awards!

Preparing for the Unimaginable and Inevitable with Samantha Russell

42 min read
·May 28, 2024
Share This

Samantha Russell, Chief Evangelist at FMG, joins hosts Anne Rhodes, Chief Legal Officer at wealth.com and Thomas Kopelman, Head of Community at wealth.com and Founder at AllStreet Wealth, to share her personal story and how major life events led her to view estate planning in her life—that it’s not just something the top 1% do when they’re older but is also about giving loved ones peace of mind and clarity.

She discusses how selling the company she and her husband, Ryan Russell built (Twenty Over Ten) was acquired by FMG, led them to taking estate planning seriously due to the financial windfall. But when the unimaginable happened and her husband was diagnosed with cancer, estate planning took on a whole new meaning for her and her family.

You can buy her husband’s book, which she discussed in the episode, on Amazon here.

Full transcript below:

Thomas Kopelman: All right. Welcome back everyone to another episode of The Practical Planner Podcast. Today, I'm really excited for this episode. Obviously, we have Anne here with me, but we have a special guest. Samantha Russell is here to join us. I feel like pretty much everybody who's listening to this podcast probably knows who Samantha is. But she's probably, at this point, known as the best marketer in the financial planning space, even though she's not a financial advisor herself. But Samantha, thank you for joining us. I'm really excited to just talk about your journey, why you're so passionate about estate planning. And honestly, I don't know if everybody listening knows, but you've joined in the advisor council for Wealth.com just because you are super passionate about making sure people get their estate planning done.

Samantha Russell: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. That was a lovely introduction. I appreciate it. And I'm part of the advisory council. You're right, I don't know how many people know that. Been with Wealth.com on the advisory council for maybe six months or so. And just really once I saw a demo of the platform I was all in and have been ever since.

Thomas Kopelman: Well, we are just very glad that you're a part of it. You've added a lot of value. You just really understand this space. And I know what we're going to really talk about today is just really going more into the life and the need for estate planning. Almost all of our episodes so far have been really talking about why you should consider a trust or the difference between a will and a trust and all just the estate planning tactics. But we really haven't taken a step back and really talked about why this is super important, the impact it has. I don't know if it's equating to the difference of if you didn't have your estate planning documents done, but I think maybe the best place is just start with you maybe sharing a little bit about your life and your journey and then we'll go from there.

Samantha Russell: Sure. Yeah. So, as you mentioned, I've been helping advisors with marketing now for, it's coming up on 10 years, which is just crazy to me. So the better part of my career. And I've always been passionate about all the different aspects of financial planning myself. It's one of the reasons I love to be in this industry. But I'm 38, I think most people in their 30s, they're in the stage of their life where their careers are crazy, they're growing their careers, they might have little ones at home. I have three kids who are now two, six, and eight. You just have a lot going on. It's a busy time of life. And usually you're thinking about accumulating wealth, maybe thinking about how do you pay less taxes? But the whole legacy side of things, I think a lot of people think, oh, I need life insurance for my kids and maybe stop there.

They think of estate planning, at least in my friend group, and these are successful people, but they think of estate planning as something that the really top 1% do when they're older and they're getting ready to think about, okay, what is my legacy going to be? How am I going to divvy up my assets to my heirs? For my husband and I, that's where we were at. We did have a financial planner we worked with that has been amazing through this whole journey. And he had been telling us, "You own this business." We owned a business called Twenty Over Ten, which is a tech platform for advisors to help them with their marketing. And as we were going through the process of selling it, which we ended up doing in 2020 to FMG, who I now work with. He's like, "Basically when you sell the business, you're going to have a large income of cash coming in or capital, if you will. And now we've really got to get serious about creating these trusts and setting everything up."

And so we were like, "Yeah." So we sold the business, then we're having the meeting. It's just you don't think worst case scenario. And we were in the process of putting all that in place and my husband started to get sick. He started to have headaches. He was 39 years old, picture of health, CrossFit athlete, and the headaches just were getting worse and they weren't going away. And so after lots of testing, he basically had an MRI that revealed he had lesions on his brain. So he was life flighted right after the MRI to a hospital in Philadelphia. And they weren't really sure actually what these lesions were because they were looking a little different. But after a biopsy and then a couple of weeks more of tests, they realized it was glioblastoma. Which for those of you who've never heard of that, I'm so glad you haven't because in the sense that that means you haven't had to deal with it.

But it is basically the worst brain cancer you can get. It's a terminal diagnosis and most people survive a little bit around a year mark and that's it. And so now we have at the time a four month old, a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old, and we're just stunned. And the whole idea of estate planning just became so front and center in our world. And I know we maybe want to talk about this, but not just the financial aspect of it, but talking things about power of attorney and who's going to make medical decisions and all these other things that we as healthy 30 somethings never thought about.

Thomas Kopelman: I think you made a couple really important points going back to it, but obviously we always want to start and be like, we are so sorry that that's the situation that you've been through, knowing you both for a very long time. I mean, I've known you maybe five years now and you're just one of the best people I've ever met, somebody that's really had an impact on me in my life, in my business and all of these things. And I was lucky to get to know Ryan and spend time with him on a podcast and get to talk to him. And he was an incredible person.

Samantha Russell: I'm so glad we had that podcast episode too, by the way. My kids love listening to it.

Thomas Kopelman: I know. And one thing I really admire about him is just the mindset that he had through everything. I talked to him many times, not one time was he the person that you would hear or know anything was going on because he was still about everybody else. And I think this is a good plugin here too for everybody that he did write a book with Morgan Housel and it's absolutely incredible. I think we bought seven or eight copies for every family with kids and both of my sides of my family. So just want to give that shout out. But I love that you did point out the thing that you had this part that pushed you to do estate planning, which was really about tax planning and setting up trusts and things like that. But I think for a lot of people, that's all they really think about. They don't necessarily think about all of the life stuff. And really at the end of the day, you're accumulating wealth, it's great to do tax planning, but the life stuff is actually the most important part of getting estate planning done.

Samantha Russell: I mean, at the end of the day, you can't take your money with you. Yes, it's important, you want to have that legacy for your kids and set up everybody else. But in those final moments... So my husband, going back to that, there's not really anything that they can do for glioblastoma beyond they can resect the tumor. The standard of care is still chemo and radiation, even though for most people it responds for a short period of time and then just grows right back. There's some devices you can wear, but everything's just prolonging life a very short period of time, months and that's it.

And the quality of life for the people who have it deteriorates so rapidly because obviously your brain is the machine in charge of everything. So you have physical deficits, you have mental deficits. And so he started to have those after probably about a year. We were lucky that he had a longer period of time where he was relatively healthy. And people, like you said, who met him would not know what was going on. But in that time, we met a lot of other people who had glioblastoma or the survivors and talked about what does it look like when it really starts to impact you? And so that enabled us then to have these really hard conversations about what did he want his end of life to look like? What would be the stopping point for him when it came to medical care? And how would he want things to proceed?

And we documented it all. We resubmitted it when we also set up our trusts as part of our larger estate plan. And when the end did come, everyone in a family, anybody who's been through something like this can attest to, has different opinions about quality of life and what that looks like. And there's so many people who just, until the very last moment, want to just keep getting all the treatments, stay in the hospital, and there's other people who just want to come home and be home. And I could not be more thankful that we had everything documented because there were a lot of differences of opinions just within our own little family unit. But he had made it so clear what he wanted and documented it that it made it so much easier for us to follow it because of that.

And unfortunately, he had been diagnosed, he'd been ill for about a year, we were actually going to Germany to get treatments, all these things, and the tumor started to come back after about the one year mark, 12 months. And so this one doctor had said, "Well, we could do this Hail Mary surgery. It's not going to save his life, but maybe it'll give him more time and maybe some of that time will get better or be better quality of life, I should say." Because at this point, he was really having trouble communicating, couldn't write an email without my help. Just having a conversation was difficult. And so he had went and had this surgery on July 25th of last year actually, 2023, which is also the day we got the keys to our new house. So our families moved us in while we were down in Philadelphia. We'd planned it for six months to move. And when he came out of the surgery, his ability to communicate was basically completely gone. He could no longer talk. He could say a few sentences here or there.

But I could not have been more happy and appreciative that we had had those tough conversations ahead of time and had it in writing because I couldn't ask him. I'm going to try not to get emotional. But I couldn't ask him, what do you want me to do in this situation? Or How would you like to proceed? And so I'm so passionate about young people, young families especially, but really anyone listening, this isn't the what if this happens scenario, we all will die. I know that's such a morbid thing to sometimes say, but we're all not paying attention to it, but we all will. Nobody's going to be here forever. And so having those conversations is such a gift to the ones who are left behind and the ones who are there with you in that journey.

And I just can't advocate enough for people to take time to sit down with their loved ones and really go through, what would it look like for you? Do you want to be home? Do you want hospice? Do you want to be with your family around? Do you want, as you're taking your final breaths, soft music playing? Do you want it to be quiet? Do you want hospital staff there? What kind of meds do you want? What do you want your funeral to look like? All of this can go into estate planning documents. Do you want to be cremated or do you want to have an open casket? And I don't think people realize that. They don't think of that as estate planning. And for me, that part of it is just something I really want to advocate for.

Anne Rhodes: Samantha, it's so critical this point that you're making about just giving your loved one some clarity can be peace of mind, it can be freeing, it can be removing a burden from them. I know that you never expect family members to want to voice very strong opinions during a critical time like this, but they will. And it happens in every single family. Your family, my family, Thomas, your family. We all want what's best for that person who's going through the treatment or that situation. And you have the worst case scenarios, of course, like Terri Schiavo 20 years ago, whose parents actually went to court against her husband because they just could not agree on what was right for her when she was in a vegetative state. And you just think, even if in the advance healthcare directive or living will, those are just words that are not necessarily binding, but just give direction.

It just gives you something to point to as the agent to say, "I'm doing what this person wanted." And that alone can just free people from making decisions that maybe they wouldn't have agreed with the person, the principal, the person who's undergoing that, but at least they can have peace of mind that they had a chance to express themselves and they can back off and let the agent make that decision. I just think not having that, you're opening yourself to potentially family conflict, leaving something behind where people don't get along after you're gone. And that's really tough as well. So having the conversation on the front end, writing it down, even if it's not binding, so important.

Samantha Russell: 100%.

Thomas Kopelman: Yeah. And Samantha, I mean, I want to say thank you for being able to talk and share your story because in my interactions with people, estate planning is something that people don't really want to do. And if you can push them to do it, and it's not about taxes really, it's a task that they try to get done as quick as they can. It's more about, "I know I need to make sure if something happens, my kids are taken care of." Or, "I know I just need to make sure all my assets are going to go to the right place."

But they don't actually think about this depth in the estate planning side of things. And I think your story shows that, no, this is really important. You don't want to not have these conversations. But I think that makes me curious, how do you have these conversations? And I know maybe for you guys you might say, "Well, maybe it's a little bit easier because we knew that there was a diagnosis, so we had to have the conversations." But I still think, in my experience, people really run from hard conversations, especially this hard of conversations.

Samantha Russell: Yeah. It's really interesting, I actually started a little list of top questions that I've given to some of my girlfriends who had that same exact question. "I need to talk about this with my husband, but what do I even say?" And I think sometimes painting a picture helps people visualize it a little bit better. Because, again, they might be thinking, in this case, I never ever would've imagined that my husband wouldn't be able to talk to me even if he was terminally ill. And so being able to say things like, "If you lost your ability to communicate, but you were still ill, but you still could understand X, Y or Z, at what point would you say, I don't want to get any more treatments because I can't enjoy my life? Would it be that you're bedridden? Would it be that you no longer can control going to the bathroom, so you need to wear a diaper and have someone else change you? Are you physically limited? What if you can't understand other people talking to you at all? Or what if you yourself can't talk?"

One of my friend's mom has Lou Gehrig's disease, and I just visited with her this week and she can't talk and she can't walk and she can't do any of those things, but her brain is fully there and functioning and she's able to understand what other people are saying to her. But her and I were able to sit and I asked her, because she can type on a little phone, so she was able to say, "I'm going to see Ryan in heaven soon." And so since she brought it up, I said, "Are you ready to go?" And she said, "Yes, I'm ready to go. I don't want to live like this anymore." And her daughter and her husband were there with me.

And I think it's one of those things where even as far as she's getting in this journey, it was like a moment where everyone really heard what she had to say because nobody's wanted to ask the question because we all just want to keep focused on getting the person better. And I think there's so much dignity in allowing people to choose and make choices about at what point do they want to say, "Let's do X, Y, or Z instead. And I want to be home and just be in my house." And just, again, all of these things that go into it. So helping someone paint a picture of if this happened, what would you say? Or if this happened, what would you say? Almost the way in financial planning conversations or investment management, we have the risk score and we ask questions. If you're using a tool, it might say, "If you lost this much in a market downturn, would that be too much? Or this percentage."

Asking them a list of questions. If you could no longer walk, if you could no longer talk. And you give them different scenarios, I think that's a really good way to do it. And when it comes to how do you broach it with your partner? I think it's something where you need to be intentional. You need to say, "Hey, listen, we've got little kids or we've been married and we have assets. We need to go out to dinner or put aside time, if you want to stay home, schedule it, get a babysitter, and we've got to go over these questions and get it done."

Thomas Kopelman: Totally. How do you, when you go through these, not put your opinion too much into it?

Samantha Russell: Of what the other person should do?

Thomas Kopelman: Yeah. I feel like two spouses might have completely different viewpoints on what end of life care might look like, what you would want. And I know I've seen, I mean even in my family, there's been conflict of a person is in this shape. They might not want to have to deal with that shape, but everybody else is like, "No, you should be fighting for this," or whatever. And obviously that was not the experience for you, but how do you not throw your opinion onto the other person? Even though you obviously love them and want the best for them, but you might have very differing opinions of what that should look like.

Samantha Russell: Well, I think that's why it's so important to do it before people get sick because while everyone's still healthy, I think it's a lot easier. Let's say it's a husband and wife and the husband is saying, "If I get this terminal illness and I cannot do X, Y or Z, for the dignity of myself, and I don't want my kids to see that, I don't want that." And then the wife gives her rebuttal, "Well, no. What about this, this and this?" And then they can come back and say, "Well, no, I've thought that through and here's why I am saying this."

Saying it when everybody's healthy and putting it in writing then I think makes it easier. I mean, people are still going to always have their opinions, but I don't think there's anything as sacred as respecting someone's wishes when it comes to their own life. I mean, think about it in every other aspect of life, we try to give people the dignity to make their own choices about things. So yeah, I mean it definitely can be hard and I don't think it's wrong to say, "Well, why would you want to do that? I would never want to do that." But ultimately then having the grace to understand that these are their wishes.

Anne Rhodes: I love that, Samantha. And I will say, Thomas, in my family at least, I'll just give you another example too, I've had these conversations with my mom who was actually diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer in 2019. And at that time she wanted me to become her proxy. This is Massachusetts, so they're called proxies. Proxy on her healthcare proxy. And I disagreed with her approach, to be honest, with end of life care. She is one of those women who is like, "I want to make as many milestones in my grandchildren's lives as possible, even if you have to wheel me out on a wheelchair, whatever it is, I want to live."

And that would not be my approach. But in that moment, when you have that conversation with this person and you don't agree with their approach, as Samantha said, you have to just give them the dignity, respect their choices. And at the end of the day, I think my mom realized even if I personally wouldn't do the same for myself, I would do it for her. Even though she may need treatment that would cause pain, I would go ahead and do that because I knew she wished a different outcome for herself. And so I think it's about trusting your agent, even if they disagree in the moment, to do what you want. And if you feel like your agent is not going to do that, then you need a different agent.

Thomas Kopelman: Yeah. That makes sense. I think obviously the purpose of this podcast is to really think through and educate advisors on estate planning, but also empower them to assist in these type of things. And so I think the way that I view some of this is, with us, with our clients, we're probably the closest to them in professional lives. Estate planning attorneys, they're maybe not along for as long of a journey, so maybe they don't know them as well. So I think a lot of these are conversations that we should try to have with our clients. And I know that if it's an annual review, "Happy February, you started your business, things are good." Maybe we're not going to go to that life stuff then. But sometimes they bring up stories of something happening in their family or something happening with a friend.

And I think those are really good opportunities to say, "Let's stay in this spot and let's have these conversations because they're really important to have." But one thing that I'm curious, and maybe from either of you, because this is not an experience that I've really had to go through, is I think what people say and what they do in a healthy spot might be very different than what they say and they do when something like this happens. So I think about this for me, I would probably say, "Hey, if end of life looked like this, then I probably wouldn't want to go through that."

But I just don't know, do people change that opinion very often when that does hit them? And I'm sure age has a difference. I think about my grandma, my grandma's in a very tough spot. She can't really communicate, but she's been alive for four or five years but not really there. And she's in totally fine health otherwise and it could be a long time. And I think a lot of our family looks at that and says, "I would never want that to have to be my life. It'd be a really hard thing." But I wonder if when you're in that experience, especially if you're in your 40s or 50s or younger, that that opinion might change just because of the hope that medicine advances or something happens that could have a change.

Samantha Russell: Yeah. I think that whole idea of the last thing you hit on, we would say all the time, "We just need to keep you going until X can happen." Because there's so many things right now for a disease like glioblastoma that is underfunded, not known very well, and there's barely been anything that has brought hope to the forefront. But there's all these clinical trials where they're injecting the herpes virus directly into people's tumors or they're creating individualized vaccines. My husband, we would go to Germany every five weeks and he got this individualized vaccine and we kept saying, "If we can just hang on and get to the next level." And I do think that is a very common thing, and also to your point about age, for a lot of people, like you said about your mom, and they say, especially if they have young kids, "I just want to be here until my daughter gets married." Or, "I just want to be here until my son starts kindergarten." Or whatever it is. And so it can be hard to know.

And then on the flip side, you have people who maybe say, "Absolutely keep me around." And then they start to feel like maybe they're a burden to other people, whether it's financially or caretaker wise. So then they change their mind and they say, "No, I don't want to do this anymore." Or they're in pain and the pain is terrible. So I think there's lots of different things. It can go both ways and it can be hard to know. I'm no expert in this, thankfully, I just am sharing the story I've been through, but I do think it can change. And so as much as you can have open communication and really trust that the person that is your agent is going to ultimately respect and have your best interests at heart and respect what you want is your best bet.

Anne Rhodes: Yeah. And I would say, Thomas, too that it's important to revisit that advance healthcare directive with your client every so often. Just because you have one on file, it doesn't mean that it's not worth looking at periodically. And I would say something like every five years, this doesn't have to be every quarter. But the other thing that I would challenge our audience to think about is I can't tell you the number of times I saw pretty much blank advance healthcare directives or healthcare proxies because you just assigned the agent, you assigned some powers and then the rest of the advance healthcare care directive about organ donation, disposition of remains, do you want to be buried or cremated? It's just left blank.

It's a fine position. Those are optional. Let your agent decide. But why are you the financial advisor? I want to check your intuition to be like, "That doesn't have anything to do with me. That's between the family members and my client to discuss." You might actually spur on some ideas in your client's mind so that they go back and they think about it a little bit more. An easy entry point is actually, because financial questions tend to be a little more comfortable for us, I think, an easy question could be about nursing home and affording care. And even just asking that question might just open up how they think about their end of life and who is there for them.

Thomas Kopelman: Yeah. Were you going to add something, Samantha?

Samantha Russell: I was just going to say I do wish that there were more maybe advisors or attorneys working together to offer workshops on this type of thing, even if it was fill in the blank worksheets. I think there's a huge opportunity out there for people to offer more education and be the moderator in these conversations. And it can be, I think, something as simple as, "Hey, we are going through all your documents and we realize that these things are left blank. Would you like us to help facilitate a conversation about that?" That's not something that is necessarily going to add to your bottom line, but I think it's going to be a huge memorable moment in the mind of the client. And we know that those memorable moments make you more referable, have people thinking about the service that you add. I mean, my advisor was the one that facilitated these conversations, hard stop. It was not the estate planning attorney we worked with, it was not anyone else, he was the one who helped us really think about those hard questions and get answers to them. And I'm forever thankful to him for that.

Thomas Kopelman: Yeah. I mean, that's super powerful. I'm curious for you, and maybe for the last few minutes that we have, is there anything that in your mind you look back on, just on the estate planning side of things, you're like, "I wish I would've done that maybe slightly differently." And I think that's one of my questions. The other question is how did going through this change the way that you view your estate planning now? Did you go back and revisit for yourself? I mean, obviously estate plan changes and life changes. Are there certain things where maybe you had certain decisions and you're like, "I think I'm going to change the way that I view that just from my experience."

Samantha Russell: Yes. Absolutely. I think one of the things that was really hard is we did everything at once during a really stressful time. So we had the diagnosis and we were doing setting up the trust, thinking about what age do we want to allow our children to access the trust? We were doing all the power of attorney and the healthcare power of attorney and the advanced directives and everything at one time. Also, knowing his diagnosis was incredibly overwhelming. And I think some of it we just did quick because we needed to get it done and we thought, well, we could always change it. And there was a lot of scenarios I didn't even think about that we then ended up going through that I wish I would've had even more guidance from him on. So I think my biggest thing is I want to go back to my own documents and get even more specific.

I think we were a lot more specific than most people, especially in our age group would be. But I want to have a lot less gray area on my own. And this sounds like a silly thing, but I would've loved to have a piece of paper that said something like, "If I die, here's what to do." And just in bullet points is, "Contact this person, these are the documents you need. Here's the passwords to all the accounts in one place." I mean, we had a lot of this stuff, because we knew his condition, in different places. But I will never forget one night I had gotten rid of the Amex card that was in his name because I was like, "Oh, we don't need that fee anymore." So I canceled it.

And he had used that card to set up all of our entertainment, Hulu, Disney+, Netflix, everything. And it was a Friday night and it had been a long week, we're all emotionally strained and we're sitting down to watch a show and I can't log into anything. And my kids are all crying and I had a complete meltdown. And I couldn't get into anything, I didn't know what the passwords were, I had to cancel all the accounts and reset them up in my name. And it was such a simple thing, but those kinds of things would make such a difference. So now that's my new thing, I'm creating a, "If I die, here's what to do," for the people that will then be in charge for me because I think it would've been so helpful.

Thomas Kopelman: I think that's actually a really good tip. I think you're giving some good ideas here almost for wealth of some things. I think one is I'm viewing this almost like a risk of lies for estate planning. Because I think there are the parts who is your healthcare power of attorney? Who's your favorite power attorney? But I don't think it goes to, if this happened, then would you want to do this? And if this happened, you'd want to do this. Because if it just says, how would you want your end of life to be? It'd be like, "Oh, I just don't want to be... If I can't take care of myself."

But what about nursing home or stay at home or all these things? You can say, if this happened, do you want that? And then if this happens, do you want that? But I also think that key summary of your estate plan, I mean, obviously with wealth you have this overview of every single part, but this one pager that you're talking about that could be like, if this were to happen to me, we know this goes to your specific person. I actually think that's a really powerful thing to do.

Samantha Russell: Well, thanks. I've only learned it the hard way, unfortunately.

Thomas Kopelman: Yeah. Okay. Last few minutes. Is there anything that we didn't talk about that you want to share or you think that would help advisors think through this better? Because I guess while you think about that, I think one thing that you do really well is you're always empowering advisors of how to be better advisors. And a lot of it is through the lens of marketing, but I also think you're not going to market things that you're not doing inside of your firm. Don't say here, "And we do estate planning and help review estate plans," and you don't know anything about estate planning or have any solution to help them on it. But you do talk about this a lot. You talk about estate planning and tax planning are two of the most valuable things that people say that they want. So I think hopefully through this, advisors can see that even if you're not writing the documents, even if there's no estate tax issues, it still really does fall on us.

And Anne and I have talked about this, most people go to an estate planning attorney or go get their estate planning documents done because of a push from a financial advisor. People just don't think about it. I was talking to my sister last week, I'm like, "Annual review. Get your estate planning done." Every time they leave, they just write it down on a piece of paper. I'm like, "Guys, don't you just feel terrible doing that?" And they're like, "Yes, we know we need to get it done." Year rolls around, they still haven't done. But I mean, I just feel like as advisors, this should be, it's on every single agenda of every time I meet a client until they do it, I do it. And then we have scorecards for clients in every area. I give them a big red failure on estate planning every time hoping they see that and say, "Oh my gosh, I need to do this. This is my only area of red that I'm failing on."

Samantha Russell: I love the scorecard. That's so smart. Yeah. And I think telling stories is really powerful. So if you're an advisor listening and you want to share my story, "Hey, there's this young couple, they're in their 30s, they've got three kids, a successful business, high of life, and then this comes crashing down in them." Use it as an example because sometimes when we tell a story, it really helps somebody to put themselves in that place and think about, oh my gosh, what would I want? But I also think sometimes rather than just saying, "Get estate planning done." If you as an advisor almost had a worksheet and you could give it to them saying, "If this happened, what would you want?" And take those questions and one by one, allow them to talk about them and say, "Look, you just answered all the questions you need for your estate planning doc. Now all you need to do is use this to create the documents." So you're not creating them for them, but you're helping ask the question to get them to the answer.

Thomas Kopelman: Yeah. I have some clients where I know that would work and other clients where they need the story or the fear. And I feel like if you had a client with kids and you just have this one question, "If you passed away, would you want the court to decide where your kids go or you?" You're like, "Well, there's your answer. If you care about your kids, then maybe this is something that you should go get done."

Samantha Russell: Right. Well, one last tip is just I think estate planning is just such an overwhelming topic and we tend to put things that are overwhelming off because we don't know what the right answer is, so we just put it off. So again, if you can break it into smaller steps and be the data collector on it little by little, and then when you have enough information, then create it. I think that could be a good strategy.

Thomas Kopelman: Yeah, I think that's really good advice. Well, Samantha, we really appreciate you coming on and sharing your story. I mean, obviously it's not the easiest story to be able to open up and share, but I think you guys, you've done a really great job of using it to educate people. And I know a lot of people have really come around you guys because you guys are just absolutely amazing people. But we appreciate the time and sharing this. And hopefully advisors walk away with this and, I mean, just have a little bit more emotion around estate planning. I think for a lot of us, estate planning really does feel like a task and it isn't really as much about the life plan and what you want for your family and everybody after and for yourself. So hopefully this can help push more and more people to get it done and think through it versus just have it be a task.

Samantha Russell: Yeah, I hope so. Thank you so much for having me on and letting me share a little bit more. And I realize I never said my husband's name, which I hate that, we should name people that are gone. So his name was Ryan Russell and he and I both thank you for letting us share this today.

Thomas Kopelman: Yep. And we'll make sure it gets linked, to everybody, go buy the book. I think it's just an awesome book about perspective and how you view life. And hopefully a lot of people will go read that and share it with their kids. But everybody, thank you-

Samantha Russell: Yeah, it's a toddlers' book.

Thomas Kopelman: Exactly. But everybody, thank you for listening. Again, please rate and subscribe. And we'll see you back for another episode here in a couple of weeks.

Share This

Other Categories

  • Trends & Insights

    Innovative perspectives from wealth management industry leaders.

  • Platform & Feature Guides

    Resources to help advisors & their clients get the most out of wealth.com.

  • Estate Planning Resources

    Everything advisors & their clients need to know about estate planning.

  • Company News

    Get the latest updates about wealth.com.