Surveys routinely find that only around 30 percent of Americans have their estate plan documents in place. That means a lot of us don’t…even though we know we “should”. Knowing that we should, thinking about it, and then not doing it can nurture negative thought patterns.
You’re not selfish, you’re not irresponsible, and you’re not lazy. You can get stuck with these thoughts. Stop feeling bad about it. You’re in good company!
You still need to create an estate plan, though, so this post is designed to help you get unstuck and do what you need to do!
To Conquer Estate Planning Procrastination: Set an Artificial Deadline
Acknowledge that there isn’t going to be a good time to get this done, and set a deadline for yourself. My husband and I used different lawyers and had our documents created at different times. (Mostly because I wasn’t willing to wait for him!) His two biggest hurdles were finding an attorney he trusted and then making the call.
Clearing those hurdles took about a year, but he got it done. In the end, he set an arbitrary deadline. He committed to getting his estate plan paperwork in place before he went on a summer trip. And that was it. Done. In my case, my parents and I set a deadline together. We got each of our wills, living wills, healthcare and financial powers of attorney done before my dad went in for scheduled surgery.
To Conquer Estate Planning Procrastination: Don’t Go it Alone
Whether going away to college or moving to assisted living, every adult needs an estate plan. This is good news because it means you should be able to enlist a group of friends or family to do it with you. You can also ask around for advice, referrals, and lessons learned. You probably know at least one person who always seems to have the answers. Give them a call! This simple step can accelerate your research, and help you understand your options.
To Conquer Estate Planning Procrastination: Think of the Rewards
You can find plenty of articles online about the terrible things that can happen if you are incapacitated or die without an estate plan. Not here. I’m here to tell you that it’s worth a bit of effort for the relief you’ll feel when the documents are signed (and copies shared with those named in the documents.)