Financial planning is sometimes compared to going to the dentist. People don’t really look forward to it, even though they know having their finances in order is good for them.
Here at TAAG, once we’ve worked through the process with a new client and we have things in place, everyone agrees it was worth it, but the dread of the road ahead sometimes keeps people from getting started.
One of the important, but seemingly not urgent, topics we cover as part of our overall review is estate planning. It can be a tough area for people to address, and the following are only a few of the reasons we’ve heard from people who want to skip ahead to less stressful topics:
We can’t agree on who should take care of our kids if we’re both gone.
This has different variations – ‘We can’t decide on who should be our trustee. We don’t know who to put as contingent beneficiary. I don’t know who I should name as my health care power of attorney.’ These and other decisions keep people from initiating a plan or completing the drafts of their wills, trusts, and other documents once they’ve gotten started.
It’s true that it’s difficult to determine the perfect person to watch over our children, manage our investments, or take responsibility for other decisions when we’re not able. But it’s virtually impossible to come up with the perfect person or ideal situation. Everyone struggles with this.
If we can accept that it will never be perfect, we can move forward. Having a completed plan in place that is good enough is far better than waiting to put together a plan until we think it’s perfect.
I don’t care what happens after I’m dead.
I’ve heard this often enough to know the person saying it doesn’t really mean it. They’re usually frustrated with a complicated family situation, worried about a tenuous relationship, or just overwhelmed by all the things they must think about as they put together their estate plan. It’s tempting to just give up and let their survivors deal with the consequences.
Once you have personally experienced the death of a person who left no estate plan behind, you will not want to even consider putting your family and friends through the same experience.
Problem situations and circumstances can be worked through, and there are ways to communicate your wishes without creating an eternal breach with your family. We can help with that too.
I can think about this later – I don’t plan on dying anytime soon.
The rush of our day-to-day lives demands so much of our attention it seems inconceivable that we won’t get up and do it all again the next day. Until we reach retirement age, and society starts to label us as ‘old,’ we spend little time considering the possibility that we might not have the privilege of experiencing another day.
Here at TAAG, we recently lost a client to an early, unexpected death. All the reasons people give us for delaying and ignoring their estate plans suddenly seemed ridiculous considering the shock her family was going through.
Fortunately, our client was an individual who was willing to tackle the questions, concerns and decisions that sometimes sidetrack an estate plan’s progress. She, thankfully, had a plan in place. Her family still must deal with her sudden loss from their lives, but they don’t have to wonder what she wanted them to do, or how her children should be cared for and supported, or all the other questions they might be struggling with right now.
Think of it this way. Your estate plan is a gift you give the ones you love. Your plan allows them to focus on their grief and come to terms with their loss.
When you consider your estate plan from that perspective, I promise it gets easier. And it becomes important AND urgent.