Estate Planning and Procrastination
I’m going to channel my inner Alex Trebek and pose three Jeopardy Gameshow answers to you.
The answers are…
- I’ve been meaning to get to that.
- Yeah, we should take care of that,
- I don’t think I’ve done that, maybe we should talk to someone.
Did you get your will or trust done yet?
My number one job as a financial advisor is to look out for the best interests of my clients on all financial matters. As expected, we often discuss the market, investments and the economy. We also advise on tax planning, budgeting and life insurance. But there are times we need to address topics our clients don’t want to talk about but need to. There is one topic that elicits more sheepish glances, uncomfortable groans and general uneasiness than any other and that is Estate planning.
So, did you get that will done yet? Since you’re going on vacation, who will take care of the kids if you don’t come back?
Trust me, I’ve heard all of the excuse. We don’t have enough time. The kids athletic schedule is crazy right now. We are SOOO busy.
We get it. Heck, I’m busy too and there are plenty of areas in my life where I procrastinate immensely. I even use many of the same excuses. But estate planning is important and I contend that usual excuses for inaction haven’t held water the last three months.
During the COVID quarantine baseball practice was cancelled. Many of us didn’t commute to work. Our home became the office. Our normal busyness was replaced with other closer to home activities. Unless you were a school teacher, you may have had more control over your time than before.
Staying at home for so long can get one to thinking. It certainly did to me. It’s during those times we financial advisors encourage our clients to contemplate those important but never convenient areas of their financial lives such as budgeting, insurance and of course, estate planning.
So, with all that ‘free time’ on your hands, and the time to ponder life’s ‘bigger’ questions did you get your estate plan done over this time? Did you think and take action on some of the following questions?
- Who is going to take care of our kids if we die?
- Will there be enough money for them to go to college?
- What will happen to my investments? My retirement?
- Who gets the house? What happens to the family cottage?
- Is my ex-spouse still listed as a beneficiary?
- What happens to the last 10 years of Facebook posts and pictures if I’m not here?
- Who will make decisions for me if I’m incapacitated?
Chances are that they are still left unanswered.
Why? Having time is not the problem. We avoid those questions because it stresses us out.
The estate planning process is fundamentally ‘uncomfortable’ because it forces us to confront a very sensitive subject, our own mortality. The messiness and unease of thinking of a world without us while are loved ones carry on is not fun. Aside, with all the stress about Covid and quarantines who needs more anxiety? No one. But make no mistake, this anxiety and stress is the reason that we don’t take action.
“Trust me, I’ll get it to it. Once things settle down.”
Our typical solution to problem on timing and stress? We just wait for that time in our life that’s less stressful, less busy. We want need the conditions to be ideal and then we will schedule a time with an attorney.
Trust me, you will be waiting a long time. The perfect time will never arrive because the feeling of uneasiness never leaves. Most attorney’s will tell you that people finally get an estate plan only when an event in their life triggers them to do so. Normally, it is a health scare or the unexpected death of someone close. Maybe someone too young. That triggering event becomes the cautionary tale that ultimately leads to action.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Friends, don’t stress this holiday weekend. Enjoy the fireworks, the BBQ, our nations independence and the special time with your family and friends. After all, if COVID taught us anything, it was to cherish the time with loved ones doing the simple things.
But when you return to work at the home office on Monday with your new sunburn let’s tackle those ‘uncomfortable questions.’ Let’s be proactive. Like any meaningful but difficult task, the feeling of accomplishment and relief after getting it done will be tremendous! We hear this from our clients all the time. I’m sure feeling the same will hold true for you.
Have a safe and amazing Independence Day! We will be here when you’re ready.
Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc. Mission Point Planning Group and Securities America are separate companies.
Securities American and its representatives do not provide legal advice; therefore it is important to coordinate with your legal advisor regarding your specific situation