Don’t let procrastination be your legacy
When you were in grade school and one of your teachers gave you an assignment that was due in two weeks - did you rush home to complete it? - probably not. No doubt many people finished working on it late into the night the day before it was due. We all procrastinate, but maybe not when we have something that we feel needs to be addressed immediately. But if no one is looking over our shoulder, or it’s a task that requires a certain amount of effort, or if there’s a cost involved, it’s often just easier to say “I’ll get to it later!”.
There is a story about a woman who is over 100 years old, who said that she was in no rush to prepare a Will. I am sure we can all see the irony in that. On the other hand, many of us have no doubt observed the challenges a family has faced when a tragedy struck suddenly where a loved one had procrastinated and did not have their documents in order. One of the most common problems arises when an elderly mother or father must be put into a nursing home in order for them to receive the proper care. Sadly, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are on the rise. When a person who is suffering with dementia reaches a certain level of cognitive decline, then that individual is no longer capable of signing legal papers. This kind of procrastination can have deleterious financial effects on the incapacitated individual’s loved ones.
One reason that people procrastinate with estate planning is because in our society people are often ill-prepared to deal with the concept of death. Although everyone’s passing is inevitable, estate planning requires facing one’s mortality and this is something that many find easier to ignore for as long as possible.
By creating a Will, Power of Attorney for Health with a Health Care Proxy and a Power of Attorney for Property you can easy your own mind by having the knowledge that your wishes are clearly spelled out and that your loved ones won’t suffer unnecessary time dealing with the courts and subsequent potential financial distress.
The Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney for Health with a Health Care Proxy, and a Power of Attorney for Property, are all essential estate planning documents everyone should have, regardless of their circumstances. Other estate planning tools may also be important depending on your situation and what you want to do with your assets. Therefore, when seeking professional advice regarding essential estate planning documents, consider if additional measures need to be taken for your personal situation.
By not procrastinating, and addressing your estate planning, you should feel not only a huge sense of accomplishment, but it will provide you with the much needed peace of mind that comes with knowing your affairs are in order.
Some suggestions to make estate planning easier are to create a list of smaller tasks:
1) Take an inventory of your financial assets; 2) Meet with a professional to build your estate plan; 3) Determine who will be your decision makers (executors and powers of attorney); 4) Decide who gets what - some estate planning can be more complex. Don’t panic, we can help you navigate those issues and find a solution that will help you reach your goals; 5) Review the draft documents your lawyer has provided to you;
6) Review and sign your documents with your lawyer - this is the time to answer any final questions and have your documents validated. Until they are signed, they are not valid.
As with many of life’s challenges, having a trusted and experienced partner can make the process easier. We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with your estate planning and to help you take the next steps.