For most people, thinking about one’s own mortality is unpleasant and low on the list of priorities. While you may objectively recognize the need to plan for your future – and the future of your loved ones after you’re gone – it can be hard to summon the motivation to actually create a will or trust. If you’ve made an effort to begin the process but haven’t finalized the details, consider this article the sign you need to finish up. When it comes to an estate plan, though, an unfinished one is about as useful as not having one at all.
Estate Plan Procrastination
There are many reasons why people avoid finishing up their estate planning. For one, the process can be a reminder that you are not, in fact, immortal. The very real consideration of how your retirement fund, your assets, and your wealth will be distributed amongst your beneficiaries can trigger many difficult emotions. Even initiating a meeting with an estate planning attorney can feel like a chore. Instead of acting in their own best interests, many choose to bury their heads in the sand to avoid these feelings.
Of course, even if you are feeling relatively level-headed about the estate planning process, the choices you are tasked with making can feel overwhelming. Depending on your family dynamics, beneficiaries may end up feeling frustrated, sad, or even angry about their inheritance. It’s impossible to please everyone, but when serious money is on the line, the pressure to make fair decisions can be intense. It is better for you to make the decision instead of leaving it up to the courts.
An unfinished estate plan isn’t always the result of emotional upheaval or internal debate about inheritance. Like other money management chores, estate planning is often put off in favor of more pressing concerns. Busy lives, holidays, vacations, and major life events like marriage or pregnancy can cause people to put off their estate planning. While certainly understandable, this kind of procrastination can have serious consequences and will add another large and emotionally charged project to your family’s to-do list when you pass away.
The Unfinished Estate Plan
Regardless of your reasons for procrastinating on estate planning, the results are the same: Your unfinished will or trust – if it exists at all – is likely unenforceable. While there may be documentation of your wishes, without a signature, your estate will be forced through probate. Expensive and time-consuming, probate is a public legal proceeding that puts your private affairs on display. While probate doesn’t always have to be a stressful experience for beneficiaries, there is a risk that your unfinished estate plan won’t be adhered to by a judge.
Regardless of the reason, if you have an unfinished estate plan, give me a call at (858) 432-3923 so I can assist you in ensuring you have a complete and comprehensive estate plan that will actually work in the event of your incapacity and at your death. If you’ve been putting off finishing or starting your plans for your estate, grab your calendar, and give me a call to schedule an appointment to complete the process and check one more thing off your to-do list.