Estate Planning: Don’t Procrastinate

“I know I need to get my estate planning done. I’m just not ready.”

I hear that or something very similar to it regularly. There are a lot of reasons why people are not getting their estate planning done. But frankly, I think of them more as excuses rather than reasons.

Here are some of the most common excuses I hear from people who are putting it off.

  1. I’m not old enough. My response to that is what is the right age? If you had some guarantee that you were going to live a certain number of years, this might be valid. But unfortunately, none of us have that guarantee.
  2. I don’t have enough assets. This couldn’t be more wrong. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. The cost for court guardianship and probate may actually come to a greater percentage of a smaller estate than it does from larger ones. You may not own a lot but without estate planning, what little you have could end up with the court and attorneys rather than your loved ones.
  3. It’s too confusing. I can’t argue too much with this one because it’s true that estate planning is complicated. That’s why you need to go through the process with a qualified estate planning attorney.
  4. I don’t want to think about who should get what. This is a challenging issue. If there are multiple children, it may be a good idea to talk to them. You may be surprised about what you hear.
  5. I just don’t want to think about it. This is a sensitive issue. No matter how you frame it, this is a discussion about what happens after you’re gone. It’s not a pleasant thing to consider.

The problem with letting these and other excuses get in the way is that you are creating greater problems by ignoring estate planning. Here are some of the reasons why you should not procrastinate.

  1. Clarifying your wishes. Any estate planning documents should include a will, a living will, durable power of attorney and more. These documents not only explain how you want your estate divided but also explain how you want to be cared for and who should make decisions if you are not able.
  2. Keeping peace in the family. If this planning is completed, you don’t face the risk of a sudden death without it. The result of that could be family arguments and battle, along with the complications of probate.

So while estate planning is something that people tend to not want to deal with, there are plenty of good reasons to start early and get it done. The reality is that nothing you do now is set in stone. If circumstances change, the estate planning can change with them.

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