I don’t think there is one person in this world who never procrastinates getting something done that they need or should do. We all do it! But there are ways to help us procrastinate less. I know this has been a constant work in progress for myself. For me, I procrastinate odd to-dos that aren’t part of my regular routine. I also procrastinate getting something done that doesn’t need to be completed for a while. I think that’s a common reason why people procrastinate getting their estate plans done. If you are young and healthy, the odds of you needing your estate plan in the near future are small. You know you need to do it, but you don’t need it right now. So here are some tricks that I use to help me. And if it helps you to take the first step to get your plan done, great! And if it helps you to accomplish some other tasks that you are dragging your feet to do, also great!
When in doubt, schedule it into your calendar, and make an appointment to call the attorney to get your estate plan done. Blocking time to do a task you don’t want to do can help you take the initiative. If it’s in your calendar as a blocked-off appointment, you are more likely to do it. You won’t have the excuse that you don’t have the time! I always block things off that I don’t want to do between things that I don’t struggle to get done. For instance, I love drafting estate plans. So, if I schedule my time to draft two estate plans, I’ll block 15 minutes between each plan to call the Probate Court to follow up on a filing (because I don’t want to call the Court).
Also, if I set a deadline for something to get done, it helps me stay focused on getting the task done. For instance, I always book the document signing date with a client before I draft. This way when I draft, I can put the date in as I draft. Also, it helps me to not forget the matter when it comes time to review it with the client. Lastly, I know I can’t procrastinate because the clients are expecting me to produce their estate plan!
For clients who need to set a deadline, maybe you have a trip coming up. Use that as a deadline to finish your plan. Or maybe you have surgery scheduled, you can use that as a deadline to get your plan done. Lots of people get their plans done around the holidays because they see their family members and it reminds them to set their plan up to protect them.
2. List out the steps and take it one step at a time.
Another tool I use is to break down the task that needs to be done and take it one baby step at a time. It can be less overwhelming to think about the task in smaller parts as opposed to a whole big plan. Another tip that helps my clients to stop the analysis paralysis is to think of the plan as a 5-year plan, not a forever plan. You can always make changes to your plan in the future. It’s better to have something done now than to have nothing done when a crisis hits. It’s never too late to get your estate plan done until it’s too late! To get your estate plan done, the task list could look like this:
3. Treat yourself!
This trick doesn’t always work for me, but some people respond well to it. The trick is to decide to treat yourself to something if you accomplish your goal/task. Maybe schedule a nice dinner with your spouse after you sign your estate planning documents as a reward for crossing this task off your list. Some people will take an afternoon off work to sign the documents so you can go out to lunch or dinner. Maybe don’t book your trip until you’ve finalized your documents; once you sign your Will and Trust you can then book your trip to Hawaii! If motivation helps get started in the process, then think about something fun you want to do and use it to help get you started!
4. Find an accountability partner.
I use this trick ALL the time. At work, home, and the gym, it’s one of the best ways to help get me to do something I don’t want to do. At work, I’ll make Joanne schedule a task for me to do while she’s in the office so she can keep an eye on me to make sure I get it done. For exercise, I prefer going to a scheduled class over going to a gym without any structure. I also will rarely go on a run by myself, but if I schedule a run with a friend, then I must show up. Your accountability partner for our estate plan can be your spouse, parent, friend, neighbor, or even your attorney!
I have clients schedule their first meeting, but then they drag their feet to get their plan done. With their permission, we stay on top of them to make sure they stay on track to protect their family and assets. We follow up weekly with phone calls, emails, or however they ask us to communicate with them. If a client knows they are likely to not follow through with the work they need to do, they ask us to “keep pestering” them so they don’t forget about their “to-do” list. Ladimer Law is happy to be your accountability partner if that helps you to keep moving forward!
5. Focus on how you will feel once it’s over.
One major hold-up with taking the first step to getting an estate plan done is thinking about your own mortality or thinking about your kids if you aren’t around. These negative emotions can stop your forward progression. Instead, focus on the relief that you will feel once your plan is in place. Many clients don’t even realize the stress they carry around when they don’t have a plan in place. But when I finish something that I didn’t want to do, the lightness and happiness that I get after helps me focus on getting it done. So, focus on the feeling of weight being lifted off of your shoulders when you think about tackling your estate plan. I bet you will be surprised how easy it was to get it done!
Let Ladimer Law help you stop procrastinating on getting your Will and Trust done!
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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.