A 2019 survey conducted by Caring.com discovered that only 4 out of every 10 Americans currently have an estate plan in place. According to the survey, 57% of adults currently have any estate planning documents and, of that, only 1 in 5 millennials (adults ages 22 to 38) currently have any such documents.
The question is, why estate planning so highly procrastinated?
Here are 5 reasons people put off making an estate plan:
1. Most people don’t want to discuss death or money. Our own mortality and money are two difficult topics to discuss. When you are creating your estate plan, these two topics are unavoidable and, for many, hard to face.
Those who are healthy tend to shy away from any conversation that involves incapacity or death. Those who believe their financial status is “too low” for an estate plan don’t see the point in discussing any goals for their estate.
The reality is that life is precarious. There is no crystal ball that tells us exactly when and how we are going to die.
Discomfort in discussing death and money should not be an excuse to procrastinate your estate plan. Not having a plan will cause much more discomfort and stress for those taking care of you or handling than your estate.
2. There is no deadline. It is common to wait until a deadline is looming to complete tasks. The problem with this mentality is that the only deadline there is to get your estate plan completed is either incapacity or death – both of which are unknown.
The earlier you start planning and have a plan in place, the better off you are if you become incapacitated or die.
3. Planning requires hard discussions about loved ones. Many people procrastinate their estate plan because their familial situation might be more complicated than normal. Dealing with uncomfortable issues, such as disinheriting a child, blended families, children or grandchildren with disabilities, etc., can make for a harder discussion.
But not planning because the discussion is difficult is not a valid excuse. The issues facing you now will not magically disappear when you die. However, dealing with those issues head on and before you pass will greatly limit any issues in the future.
4. Creating the estate plan seems daunting. Estate planning is not a simple task, but by meeting with a qualified estate planning attorney, the process will be much more manageable. Estate planning is a process. Instead of worrying about what seems like a complicated and difficult task, start small. Take the necessary steps to begin the process.
Start by attending an estate planning seminar or setting up a consultation with an estate planning attorney, who will provide you with information needed to get started.
5. Resistance to hiring an attorney. Procrastination is twofold. First, people tend to dislike hiring an attorney. Whatever the reason, some people have an aversion to attorneys. Second, with today’s technology, anything can be found on the internet, including estate planning documents. Therefore, people tend to think “Why hire an attorney, when I can do my own estate planning.”
In reality, you should never attempt to do your own estate planning. You should seek the advice of a qualified estate planning attorney. Do not leave your estate to chance and roll dice with using DIY documents.
Do any of these five reasons apply to you? Do not let procrastination keep you from completing your estate plan. There is no better time than now. Talk to a qualified estate planning attorney today.
Rebekah N. Freeman is an associate attorney with Elder Law & Estate Planning Center. hiltonheadelderlaw.com