Unless your crystal ball works better than mine, none of us can see into the future. Here are my top ten reasons for you to join the 40% of Americans who have peered into the crystal ball and decided to take matters into their own hands.
1. I don’t know what will happen next year, next week or even in the next hour. Either do you. Life is wonderfully and terrifyingly unpredictable. The only way to stay sane is to control what you can and shore up your inner and outer resources for the unpredictable. An estate plan allows you to determine your quality of life now and moving forward and the quality of life of your family after you are gone. In other words, controlling what we can makes the unpredictable less terrifying.
2. It feels good. I have observed this universal truth in estate planning: each client feels great when leaving our office with an estate planning binder in tow. It feels virtuous to have faced this task head on and overcome inertia.
3. It is not an “all or nothing” proposition. Many Americans defer estate planning because they presume it all must be done at once. While it is ideal to have a comprehensive estate plan that is coordinated, any step you take in planning your estate is a good one. If you decide to do a Will this year and a Durable Power of Attorney next year for this task to be manageable for your budget and your sanity, then well done! Taking one step is better than no steps.
4. It is too expensive. In most instances, my estate planning consults are free. There are no barriers to having the discussion and you are not committed to any outcome or services. Just come in and chat. I am not too scary.
5. Your death is inevitable. Enough said.
6. Best. Gift. Ever. Speaking as a daughter of a dearly beloved father who had his estate beautifully planned, you cannot overestimate the value of an estate plan for your family during a time of great loss. It is an extraordinary act of love and courage to take this on during your own lifetime.
7. Probate sucks (for my clients). A significant part of my practice is assisting clients through probate. While I enjoy helping clients navigate this process, they would much rather be doing something else. We are fortunate to have excellent and dedicated probate judges and court staff in Vermont, but that doesn’t help my clients feel better about spending their time and money figuring out what happens to Mom’s jewelry, how to transfer her home, and what would she have wanted for burial.
8. It is not just for the wealthy. Each of us has something to give and someone to benefit. My pearl ring (from my mother) is not an expensive piece of jewelry, but I have made sure that my daughter will receive it upon my death. From one daughter to another. That has nothing to do with wealth.
9. It answers the important questions now. What sort of medical treatment or extraordinary measures what you want taken if you could not speak for yourself? Much better to have a say now than to lose your voice later.
10. It prevents future expense. A durable power of attorney (designating a financial agent who can access your assets for your benefit if you become incompetent or incapacitated) can save your family a great deal of expense and time by avoiding the need to seek a guardianship through the probate court. This is just one example of a simple estate planning tool that reaps tremendous benefit for you and your family with modest cost now.
If this list hasn’t convinced you, then give me an opportunity to do so in a free estate planning consult. I can be very persuasive.