Like cleaning out your closet and getting more sleep, estate planning is one of those tasks that you might classify as a “should do.” You know that creating a will and making your end-of-life wishes known is an important and responsible thing to do.
And yet, if you haven’t been able to move this to-do from the “should do” column to the “done” column, you’re in good company. Millions of Americans who would benefit from estate planning haven’t started this process. (In a small 2019 study done by Caring.com, 57% of respondents did not have any estate planning documents!) There are a myriad of reasons why people put off estate planning, but none of them is insurmountable.
Because They Don’t Have Many Assets
“I’m not rich; there’s no point in doing estate planning when I don’t own much.” Some people assume that estate planning is only something the wealthy need to do. They mistakenly believe that this process is all about dictating how a person’s money and property is handled after their death. But that’s just one element of estate planning. Other elements, like making your wishes known around end-of-life decisions, are universal.
Parents of minor and/or disabled children have an especially urgent reason to tackle estate planning. Part of estate planning is creating a will, which is where parents can name guardians for their children in the event that they die before the children are 18. The courts will appoint a guardian if the parents haven’t specified their wishes. Parents of dependent disabled children can use estate planning to establish a trust and other protective measures to make sure that their children are cared for even after their parents are gone.
Having few assets doesn’t mean you don’t need to do estate planning. It just means that parts of the process might be a little easier and less complicated! Also keep in mind that, even if you have few assets, doing estate planning now could prevent your loved ones from having to go through probate when you die. Everything that you’ve earned could go directly to them instead of being swallowed by probate costs.
Because They Assume There’s Time Later
Life is busy right now – why add one more thing to your plate if you can put it off? Maybe estate planning seems like one of those things that you’ll get to eventually, like replacing the roof or taking that dream vacation. Especially for people who are relatively young and healthy, it can feel like there’s no urgency around estate planning.
For some of those people, putting off estate planning may work out just fine. As long as they stay healthy and live a long time and eventually do tackle estate planning, having waited won’t be a disaster. For others, the right time never comes – but health problems do arise. If the worst happens and you’re unexpectedly incapacitated by a serious health issue, it will be a tremendous relief to already have those plans in place.
Because It’s Costly or Time Consuming
When your money and time are tight, spending both on estate planning might not feel like something you want to do. Think of it this way: Either you’ll spend some money and time on estate planning now, on your own terms, or your loved ones will spend some of your money and their own time later on, going through probate and guessing about what your wishes were. Estate planning can save your loved ones time,money and emotional stress in the long run.
If the time or money involved are your primary objections to starting estate planning, start thinking of this process as being about making health care decisions as well as financial ones. Creating a healthcare power of attorney and an advance health care directive allow you to clarify your wishes around things like who you want making healthcare decisions for you, if you’re unable to do so in the future.
Because It’s Emotionally Difficult
One of the biggest barriers to overcome around the estate planning process is the emotional challenge of thinking about and talking about your death. There’s no avoiding that topic during estate planning, and it makes sense that you might not want to address it. It might help to think of estate planning as an act of caring for the loved ones who outlive you, and of protecting your legacy
One way to make this process feel less intimidating is to work with estate planning attorneys who understand just how emotional and overwhelming it can be. The team at Ladimer Law bring compassion and experience to everything we do. Estate planning is our area of specialty, so no matter why you’re avoiding getting started, we’ve seen it before.
If you’ve been putting off estate planning, get it over with now and move on knowing that you’ve put plans in place that will protect you and your loved ones. Contact Ladimer Law today to get started.
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Ladimer Law specializes in estate planning. We protect our clients, their heirs, and their assets by listening closely, knowing the law, and executing estate plans that fit and evolve.