It’s sad to say, but many people have not done any meaningful estate planning. It’s not because they are trying to deprive their heirs of an inheritance, but simply because they find countless excuses to procrastinate. Here are some of the many excuses we hear a lot.
Cost: “An estate plan is expensive and more than I can handle right now.”
We spend our lives working hard to build our wealth and assets. Doesn’t it make sense to invest in professional fees now to avoid unnecessary taxes, protecting your legacy and avoiding family disputes later on? When you consider the high costs your heirs could pay if you don’t have an estate plan, the cost of developing one is inconsequential in the long run and might be less expensive than you expect.
Age: “I’m too young to worry about estate planning.”
Even if a person has few assets or no children, estate planning also includes provisions for important decisions during life, such as naming agents in a durable power of attorney or health care proxy to make decisions if you become incapacitated or disabled.
The “death and dying” discussion: “I don’t like talking about it.”
As unpleasant as it is, creating an estate plan does not mean that something is suddenly going to happen to you; it means that you value yourself and your family enough to do what is best for your loved ones’ future security.
Typically, people who have completed the estate planning process achieve peace of mind knowing that they have planned for their loved ones.
Time: “I’m too busy, I don’t have time.”
If you have time go to a movie, play golf, go to the dentist, or work out at a gym, you have time to meet with an estate planning attorney. Preparing an estate plan should be at the top of your priority list. An estate planning attorney will develop a structure and timeline to make the process less time consuming.
Will: “I already have one and that’s all I need.”
There is a common misconception that if you have a will, you have an estate plan. That is a myth. A proper estate plan also includes financial and health care powers of attorney; it often includes a trust to avoid probate, protect minor children and maintain family privacy, and provides more control over the distribution of your assets, which often streamlines the process. Furthermore, estate plans should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure they meet your current goals.
Procrastination: “I need to think about it.”
This is yet another unfortunate excuse for postponing creating an estate plan. It is important to be an informed and educated consumer, but once you know your options it’s time to act. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with “What if’s,” figure out what is holding you back (anxiety? confusion? price?) then go for it.
Delaying your estate plan can have serious consequences, including unnecessary taxes, loss of assets to creditors and nursing homes and incorrect disposition of assets among your intended beneficiaries.
One key factor in having a good estate plan in place is peace of mind: Knowing you’ve done the right thing for you, your business and your family. If you don’t know where to start, visit our website for information about a free educational workshop to learn the facts, ultimately giving you peace of mind.
Of note, if you created an estate plan years ago, the laws or your circumstances might have changed. It is a good idea to review your documents and update your plan periodically.
Rebekah Thompson is an associate attorney with Elder Law & Estate Planning Center. hiltonheadelderlaw.com