This is one of those things that you know you should do, but you keep finding reasons not to. After all, says the article “Estate planning: How to quit stalling and write your will” from The Orange County Register, none of us likes to think about dying or what might occur that would require someone else to raise our children.
What do you need to get motivated and stop procrastinating?
Remember who you are creating a will for. Think of it as a love letter to those you leave behind. You want to provide specific instructions for the people you love about what you want to happen to your minor children, beloved pets and possessions. You are saving them the worries of trying to guess what you would have wanted and the cost of having to pay attorneys to clean up a mess after you have died.
Legal visualization. Think about what will happen in the absence of a will. Without an estate plan, a court will decide who will raise your children. State law determines who inherits your possessions and maybe the laws won’t follow your wishes. Every estate planning attorney has stories of people who die without planning. A spendthrift heir can easily spend a lifetime’s work in less than two years. A trust can be used to control how and when money is distributed.
Simple works. Don’t let the term “estate plan” throw you. A basic estate plan is not as complicated or as expensive as you might think. An experienced estate planning attorney will guide you through the process. You should also think about the short-term: what do you want to happen if you die sometime in the next five years? You can always update the plan if things change.
Give yourself a realistic timeline. Setting specific dates for tasks to be done and breaking the project out into smaller parts can make this easier to address. Start by getting an appointment with an attorney on your calendar. Then, set a date to have a conversation with your family members about guardians, charities, and other intentions for your legacy. That might take place around Thanksgiving when families have extended time together. By December 1, clarify and confirm your documents and get them signed before the holidays. You should also make sure to retitle any assets that are being moved into trusts.
If you were to start today, you could be done by New Year’s Day, 2020. Wouldn’t that feel great?
Reference: The Orange County Register (October 1, 2019) “Estate planning: How to quit stalling and write your will”