Have you thought about dying lately?
Most of us don't.
However, my daughter had a close friend pass away recently. This shocking and unexpected event got me thinking about death and how fragile our time here really is.
In fact, as a financial planner I started thinking about estate planning, and why so many of us put it off. Some of my clients still don't have simple wills. In spite of my constant urging of their importance, still have not executed one yet.
There are many reasons people put off estate planning.
Here are four reasons I think most of us avoid estate planning:
They don't have the time.
I hate to be a nag, but this is just an excuse. We are all busy. There are just certain things that you have to take time to take care of, and estate planning is definitely one of those things. Naming beneficiaries and an executor are two musts. Take the time to think this through. If you're married you probably think your spouse will get everything. While that may be true, you don't want your relatives and your spouse fighting over some piece of furniture or other trinket. If you are single, then it won't be as obvious as to who gets what, especially if your siblings and parents survive you. Stop procrastinating you may not get another chance.
They don't want to think about dying.
This is probably the most common reason people don't do some estate planning. Nobody wants to think about their own mortality, but we all will leave this earth someday. Why not do it while you are healthy? Estate planning can challenge your thinking. You will have to consider things like, who will get custody of your minor children, who gets your money and where you'll want to be buried. It makes you think about not being here and how your family will cope. Estate planning is uncomfortable but necessary.
They don't understand it.
This is a valid reason in my opinion for putting off estate planning. Temporarily. You must find a financial planner and/or estate planning attorney that can analyze your estate and educate you on your choices. You may not have an estate large enough for a complicated trust, but that doesn't mean you don't need a will with certain provisions in it. For example, if you become incapacitated from an accident, who will pay your bills? Do you want to be kept on life support? Make sure you get an education.
They don't think they have an estate to worry about.
Some of you may be thinking that you don't have enough wealth to worry about estate planning. You have an estate if you own pretty much anything. Something as simple as owning a car or a home can be a problem if you don't decide who will receive it when you pass. If you don't have a will or a named beneficiary, then the probate process could be pure hell for your survivors. Make sure you do some estate planning today before things get complicated.