Age Old Excuses - Part I
According to the Harris poll mentioned in the previous post, the number one reason why people fail to estate plan is that they "don't get around to it." This is a product of people simply not placing enough importance on estate planning. To illustrate why this type of thinking creates problems, take a minute and perform a little thought experiment.
Imagine a scale with ""Not That Important" on one end and "Critically Important" on the other. Now think of all the stuff you need to do on a daily or weekly basis and place those items on the scale in relative order of importance. For example, you might place "take out the trash" somewhere near the "Not That Important" end of the scale, while something you absolutely cannot put off, like paying the mortgage, would go more towards the "Critically Important."
Now put estate planning on the scale. If you put it closer to the "Not That Important" end, then you've done a good job of illustrating the problem. Most folks, when put to it, will treat estate planning like mowing the lawn - something that can be safely put off until tomorrow. In reality, estate planning is closer to the "Critically Important" end of the scale. It's something you need to have in place now, so that you're ready in case the worst should happen.
The good news is that "not getting around to it" thinking is an easy problem to avoid. All you need is a calendar and a pen. First, you should evaluate your current circumstances and put a little thought into what planning you might need to fully protect yourself. Do you already have a will? A power of attorney? Do any of these need to be updated? This is an important step, so you should take your time and think carefully about it. Give yourself about a week or two from now to get this proceess done and mark that date off on your calendar. Remember, the more you make this a "set in stone" date, the more likley you are to follow through, so really commit to taking the time to do it.
Next, mark off another date a week later. This is the date by which you commit to calling an attorney to at least discuss any planning concerns you have from the first step. In most cases, the attorney will be able to list two or three simple things that can help create a more secure future for yourself. Even if it turns out there is nothing you need to do, you will have the peace of mind of knowing you're in good shape.