Most financial service professionals can quickly rattle off a list of reasons why everyone needs to have their files organized and then implement an estate plan. Even if it is just a simple will, everyone needs one. On that we can all agree. It takes lots of effort to convince someone that they need to do some pre-planning. It is very similar to trying to convince someone to brush their teeth, see a doctor once a year, or eat their veggies. They know what the right thing to do is but for some reason they refuse to do it.
Then the main question is why, according to statistics, less than half of individuals and/or families actually have done that planning? What is the deal with that? Everyone knows what the right thing to do is, but less than half do it. It’s like knowing that playing with fire will get you burned, but you play with fire anyway.
So after a good amount of research I have come up with a list of the “whys”. Here are my top five reasons you don’t follow through with planning.
1. It’s work! All of us are very, very busy. We all have lots of demands on our time. To do estate planning correctly, it means pulling out paperwork, looking up information, and thinking about what, where, how and why. No one needs extra work these days.
2. It brings successes and failures into close focus. As you review your portfolio, assets, liabilities, life insurance, annuities, and other investments, it comes into close focus that you are not where you had planned to be. It reminds you that life is not turning out as if you thought it would when you were 25. Reality is difficult sometimes.
3. You don’t think you need a plan. There is lots of information running around out there today regarding who needs to plan and when. If you are resisting to begin with, and you have what you think is an estate under the level for inheritance tax, you will not believe you are in harm’s way of the tax authority. In your mind, you are exempt since you don’t have a tax issue. This is wrong thinking.
4. You don’t want to think or talk about death. Many people avoid the subject of death and dying. You have no feel, faith, or belief and therefore feel vulnerable. Running around in your head is the “good” person and the “bad” person you think you are.
5. You are uncomfortable talking about your money. Whether you have lots of money or not very much, you are uncomfortable talking about it. As we grow up we are taught that our money is a very private thing. Therefore, you feel exposed by talking about it, planning for it, and having someone else involved with it.
If you can overcome these excuses, you will be motivated to complete your estate planning. Many times a small step can lead you to be comfortable and that can lead to a larger step. If you can identify and understand why you keep procrastinating then maybe you will do something about it.
We are all facing the same end. Those that stop kicking the can down the road and get prepared will have greater peace of mind.
Start with something simple. Organize your files. That way you can take a good look at what the reality is and then do something about it. Once the files are all organized, you can take this information to a professional and see what the next step would be. This is a very non-threatening place to begin.
Start with my Caregiver Guide to Paperwork Management. It will walk you, step-by-step, through a simple file organizing system and get you started on the right path. You can access it here:
It won’t hurt as much as you may think….promise!!