Let’s be honest: Who doesn’t procrastinate? As children, we put off homework assignments or studying until the last minute. As adults, we tend to wait until the deadline to file our IRS taxes, or we delay in scheduling routine doctor appointments.
We all do it – it’s human nature. But as we know, some procrastinations do not end well and can result in unintended consequences.
Estate planning is one of the most procrastinated subjects. It doesn’t matter if you’re young, old, rich, or receive average income, failing to plan can have an impact on not only the management and distribution of your estate, but also on your loved ones who are left to sort out the complications you left.
Here are a few reasons why people procrastinate estate planning:
• We think there’s plenty of time. We tell ourselves that things “can wait” or that “there’s plenty of time to get it done.” The younger generation has the “immortality complex.” They’re young, healthy, and focused on the now, their careers, or future advancements, and believe that they may be too young to be concerned about estate planning – they’re at least half a century away from dying, right?
The older generation knows that they’re not getting any younger, but many feel healthy and have no sense of urgency to create or update an estate plan. They tell themselves that it can wait a few more months or maybe another year, etc.
Truth is, time does not stand still and time waits on no one. If you were involved in a car accident, what good would it do if you didn’t put your seat belt on until after the accident occurred? Don’t treat your estate plan like a wound that a bandage can be put on after a tragedy occurs – because there might not be a bandage big enough.
• Death is difficult to think about. Who wants to talk about death? Very few of us, if anyone at all. But, creating an estate plan is not just about planning for your death. Unexpected events and tragedies happen daily that could result in you becoming disabled or incapacitated. If there aren’t certain documents in place that have planned for with regard to the management of your care, i.e. Powers of Attorney, then someone will have to seek guardianship or conservatorship over you.
• “Estate planning is too expensive.” Many people believe that creating an estate plan is just too expensive. The reality is, it is far more expensive to not have even the most basic estate plan in place than it is to create one with the assistance of an attorney. There is an estate plan out there for everyone that can be crafted to best suit your needs.
Yes, there might be price differences depending on the type of estate plan you may want or how creative you decide to be in your distributions to beneficiaries. However, you should view an estate plan as an investment that could save thousands of dollars and time in the future. Don’t let your fear of “how much” be an excuse to not create an estate plan.
Don’t be a procrastinator, because if you fail to plan then you plan to fail. Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney today.
Jada L. Gaines is an associate attorney with Elder Law & Estate Planning Center in Bluffton. hiltonheadelderlaw.com