Estate planning is essential for people from all walks of life. Whether you are rich, poor, or somewhere in-between, you should ensure that your affairs are in order should the worst come to pass. If you suffer incapacitation or death, an estate plan can ensure that your medical decisions are carried out and that your assets pass to your loved ones in accordance with your wishes.
We have all heard horror stories about family members passing away without estate plans. What occurs in the aftermath can even split close families apart. Siblings may go to war with each other over assets. Old rivalries between family members can turn into lengthy and expensive legal battles. Worst of all, other people could make important decisions on your behalf without your wishes in mind. The good news is that your family does not have to suffer these consequences.
You may feel tempted to hold off on estate planning for various reasons. Perhaps you do not believe you are old enough to require an estate plan. You may have reservations about expenses involved with estate planning or you may believe you do not own enough assets to warrant an estate plan. However, as stated above, you should get the ball rolling on your estate plan as soon as possible.
Reasons for Estate Planning Procrastination
Attorneys with our experience generally see the same types of reservations from potential clients. Some of the most common reasons for estate planning procrastination include:
- I’m too young!: Do not fall into this line of thinking. Unfortunately, death can come for any of us at any time. Car accidents, cancer, aneurysms, falls, acts of violence and numerous other events could easily take your life or lead to permanent incapacitation. If you do not have an estate plan in place, then the courts will decide how your assets pass to your surviving family members. Even worse, if you have children, the courts may decide who will become their guardian.
- I’m too poor!: You don’t need to be wealthy to obtain an estate plan. Whether you are middle class, poor or incredibly rich, you should still obtain an estate plan. Basic estate plans, which can include a last will and testament, a living will, durable power of attorney and durable healthcare power of attorney are inexpensive.
- I can’t afford it!: You may have reservations about hiring an estate attorney to help you develop plans for your family after you are gone. However, the expenses of not having an estate plan can be even more costly for your loved ones. Remember, family members may fight over your assets after your death, which may involve lengthy and expensive court battles.
- I don’t have time!: You should live life as if any day could be your last. While this does not mean you should turn into a nervous wreck at the prospect of death or serious injury, it does mean that you should ensure you and your loved ones are taken care of if the unexpected happens. Who knows what could happen between now and a year from now?
Overcoming Estate Planning Procrastination
You should be proactive with your estate plan, but that can be easier said than done. Picking up the phone to speak to an estate planning attorney is a crucial first step for overcoming your reservations about estate planning. We find that in many cases, our team can help people overcome these reservations after the first phone call.
You should have a full understanding of what can happen without an estate plan. Some of the consequences are above, such as having decisions made about guardianship or personal healthcare preferences by parties outside of your immediate family.
For the first meeting with your estate planning lawyer, you should obtain a detailed listing of your properties, assets and valuables. We have more information about the estate planning on our website. For more information, please give us a call at (720)613-2633 or use our online case review form.
Suzy Nelson, Esq.