There are a number of reasons why you may want to consider creating or updating your estate plan this year (i.e. marriage, divorce, birth, COVID-19, retirement). And there are an equal numbers of reasons why you might be inclined to put it off. What holds most people back? The “popular” answer is we’re all afraid to face our own mortality. That hasn’t been my observation. The biggest challenge that holds many people back is failing to understand estate planning is not perfect.
Here is a breakdown of the common obstacles I see:
Becoming frozen in procrastination.
Getting started on what feels like a big, complicated task is the number one killer of success in any venture. “I don’t have time.” “I need to finish (fill in the blank) first.” “I’ll have to give these questions some thought.”
Solution: Start with one simple task. Schedule a meeting with your advisor.
Choosing people and assigning priorities is tough.
This was huge for me when our kids were born and we had to name a guardian in our will. “I want the best for my kids. Nobody will do as good of a job raising them as I would.” We face the same challenge when selecting trustees or executors. “What if they don’t do things the way I would do them?”
Solution: Find comfort in knowing the guardians, trustees and executors you choose will do their best. That’s all you can expect of them, or of yourself.
Thinking decades down the line.
We often get stuck trying to predict future circumstances based on what we know today. “My kids aren’t ready to inherit money now. What if they’re still not ready in 15 or 20 years?” “What about my grandchildren? Will they be ready?”
Solution: Focus instead on the next five years.
Estate planning isn’t perfect. Perfect is the enemy of good. Remember, these documents are written on paper, not on stone. They don’t need to last 10, 20 or 30 years. Make the best decisions with the information you have today, and know that you’ll be updating your documents (making them better again, not perfect) in three to seven years. It takes the pressure right off the table.
For successful estate planning, your new plan just needs to be better than the current plan. Hire the right professionals, and let’s work to get it as good as we can.