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4 Ways to Respect Traditional Eastern Values in Estate Planning

Orange County, California, is home to the nation’s third-largest Asian population, with nearly 600,000 Asian Americans living in the area. With that said, the county’s estate planning attorneys are learning that the needs of people who maintain traditional Eastern values are different than those with traditional Western values. 

Western cultures value individualism, and that can even be seen in things like estate planning. While most people find it difficult to talk about end-of-life planning in general, people with a Western mindset are accustomed to pursuing their individual goals; the idea of deciding what should happen to their assets after their death is not unusual or in conflict with their belief system. 

However, people whose cultures emphasize respect for authority and traditional ways may find it very difficult to take charge of their estate planning; concepts like making a healthcare directive or willing money to someone outside of the family may seem offensive. 

Fortunately, there are several ways to respect Eastern value systems in estate planning:

1. Understand the Value of Estate Planning

Perhaps the most important way to honor traditional Eastern values is to understand that estate planning is a way to care for future generations. Though the wishes of the individual are initially emphasized in the planning process, the long-term goal is to make things easier for their loved ones as they navigate a future without them.

Estate planning brings peace of mind to the individual, but it can be a great relief to your loved ones to know exactly what your wishes are. Making decisions about another person’s end-of-life care or the division of their assets can be a burden, but estate planning lifts that burden and several others.  

2. Engage Family Input

In a culture that values family and community over individuality, family input may be seen as a necessary part of estate planning; that said, it may seem counterintuitive for an individual with traditional Eastern values to plan a directive for how they should be taken care of in the event of incapacity. 

That hesitance may make it difficult to make decisions about powers of attorney or healthcare directives on their own, so allowing for group-oriented decision-making may ease the process. Conferring with family members or even bringing them with you to speak with your estate attorney may make the entire process more comfortable for everyone involved.

3. Passing Down Values

Estate planning is about more than passing down money or belongings; individuals who take the time to plan their estate can include provisions that preserve their cultural values. From funeral arrangements to directives about the family business, an experienced estate planner can help you put all the pieces into place. 

4. Choosing the Right Professional

Working with an estate planner who is willing to understand your traditional values is key. Cultural sensitivity — as well as a sincere desire to fulfill client needs — play major roles in satisfactory estate planning. People with significant cultural considerations will work better with an attorney who can weave those considerations into the structures and documents of an estate plan. 

For example, a person with traditional Eastern values may prefer a decision that does not maximize their wealth if it serves their community or family better, which can be hard for some estate planning attorneys to grasp, but attorneys with experience working with people from other cultures will be more understanding and thus able to meet those unique needs. 

Estate Planning That Honors Your Culture

Your traditions, culture, values, or religion shape all of your decisions, including estate planning. Every person should feel comfortable talking about their cultural values with their estate attorney in Orange County, CA, and when you turn to the professionals at OC Wills and Trusts, you’ll be speaking with experienced professionals who respect your values.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.