The simple and unpleasant truth of estate planning is this: few people enjoy spending time contemplating their own mortality. Estate Planning requires recognition that at some point in the future you will no longer be alive, which leads to anxiety. This is the biggest reason, advisors say, that people put off estate planning. Unfortunately, our heirs pay the ultimate price when we fail to plan.
Many people are reluctant to dig into the issues of estate planning, according to an article on financial-planning.com, “3 Biggest Barriers to Successful Estate Planning.” The anxiety associated with estate planning leads to three major behavior responses: procrastination, indecision and inattention. Our advice? “Get Going!” Make an appointment to speak with an estate planning attorney and get the process underway. Sometimes just having the appointment can lessen some of the anxiety.
1. Procrastination. Fear is a major contributor to procrastination. You know, dealing with your own mortality… who likes to think about that? We’re always too busy, and there’s always something better to do, like clean the garage or organize your sock drawer. It’s easier to let that fear of our mortality grow than to face it.
2. Indecision. Some folks put off doing anything because they are riddled with indecision. There are too many decisions to make, so it’s easier to not make any. Sometimes people get hung up on selecting a guardian for their minor children. Because they can’t choose one, they don’t do anything else in their estate planning. Another example is the person who is so worried about giving money to her kids. Because she knows they can’t handle it, she makes no plans at all!
3. Inattention. Outdated plans are a major problem in estate planning. If folks don't review their documents and update them when necessary, their estate plans become obsolete. The complexity of the subject, the constantly changing tax laws, and "estate planning fatigue" can contribute to frustration and anxiety, which causes people to avoid taking any action or to procrastinate.
Your estate planning attorney can give you an annual analysis of your total assets available for heirs. You can then re-examine how much you want to give to your heirs. Think of it not as making lifelong decisions, but as making decisions twelve months at a time. Look at it as re-comforting yourself every twelve months, and you can feel better knowing you’re doing OK.
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