“I’m not wealthy.” “I’m young and healthy.” “I don’t want to jinx myself.” There are many reasons why creating an estate plan is an important and just as many justifications for not doing it. Here are some common excuses for procrastinating in preparing an estate plan and some ways to overcome them.
1. “I’m young and healthy. Only old people need a will.”
This is one of the most common reasons I hear from younger clients in not having an estate plan. In a previous blog post, I mentioned the study by caring.com which detailed the number of adults in the United States who did not have a will. A look into the age break down of those surveys revealed some not so surprising results: eighty-one percent (81%) of those age 71 and older reported having a will, while a staggering seventy-eight percent (78%) of those ages 18 to 36 reported they did not have a will.”
This number is distressing. The fact is even the healthiest person has a chance of getting injured in an accident, being diagnosed with a serious illness, or becoming unexpectedly incapacitated. Without certain estate planning documents, such a situation may leave your family members scrambling for court intervention in order to provide for your care and wellbeing.
Some important estate planning documents include powers of attorney and health care directives. A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to handle financial matters for you, such as making sure your bills are paid. A health care directive appoints someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. An example would be if you were in a coma or otherwise unconscious, your agent could give the hospital staff permission to perform the necessary treatment or surgeries. A living will allows you to give directions on your wishes regarding end-of-life treatments such as whether you would want life-sustaining measures to be used in the event you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious.
Another important consideration is for parents of minor children. Without an estate plan in place, you may be leaving your minor children to an uncertain future. Creating a will or a trust allows you to provide for your children financially as well as gives you an avenue for appointing a legal guardian for your minor children if the worst should happen to you.
2. “I’m not wealthy enough to need a will.”
Another common excuse stems from the idea that only rich people need wills. No matter how rich or poor, everyone has an estate. Even a person who passes away with only $1000 in a bank account would likely want that money to go to a loved one. A bank is going to require some kind of direction from the account owner or a court to distribute those funds.
A direction from the account owner could be something like adding a simple payable-on-death clause to the account which names a beneficiary to receive that money upon your death. Without such a clause, a court proceeding would be necessary, and such a proceeding would very likely cost more than the amount left in the account. With that in mind, the beneficiaries may decide it is not worth it to pursue the action leaving $1000 unclaimed at the bank. Eventually this money would revert to the state and none of your beneficiaries would receive it. Don’t leave it to chance. Make sure your heirs receive the inheritance they deserve.
3. “If I think about my death, I’m going to jinx myself.”
There are certain estate planning excuses that revolve around the fear that talking about death is somehow tempting fate. In our culture, people are often uncomfortable talking about death and illness. However, estate planning does not have to be a stressful or overwhelming experience in this regard. In fact, many of my clients after executing their estate planning have expressed relief at having such an important task completed.
Have you been procrastinating in starting your estate plan? Contact the office for an appointment today!
 Walls, Barbranda Lumpkins. “Haven’t Done a Will Yet?” AARP, February 24, 2017. https://www.aarp.org/money/investing/info-2017/half-of-adults-do-not-have-wills.html
Jessica Brandow is foremost an estate planning attorney dedicated to providing quality legal service to all types of clients.