Why do so many people put off estate planning? There are four major reasons people delay creating their will or living trust.
People are intimidated by lawyers and the legalities involved in estate planning-Overcome this problem by finding an attorney with whom you feel comfortable. Do not hesitate to ask your prospective attorney questions, even if you think they might seem silly. Don't feel bad because you don't understand the entire field of estate planning-that's why you pay an attorney. Also, choose an attorney with experience in the estate planning field. You need someone you can count on to handle all the legalities for you.
People believe that estate planning is too expensive-you can dispel this problem by thinking of estate planning as an investment, not an expense. Remember, the national average cost of probate is 5 to 10 percent of the value of the estate. A living trust is actually one of the most profitable investments you can make. I have never seen a probate that cost less to settle than a trust. Furthermore, if the estate is over $2 million in value, living trusts may save money on taxes. Although I'm a great proponent of patriotism, I don't want Uncle Sam, lawyers, and accountants to benefit from your life-long hard work.
Many people find it difficult to confront their own mortality. Let's face it, when people deal with estate planning, they're dealing with death. Some people have a vague superstition that if they face death, it'll happen. Well, the sad news is that if they don't face death, it will still happen! Procrastinating on estate planning doesn't postpone death. Rest assured that no one has figured out how to accomplish effective estate planning after leaving this earth.
Instead of dwelling on estate planning as a death process, think of it as a life process. Proper estate planning ensures quality of life for your loved ones and peace of mind for you. The best time to stop procrastinating is now!
In his brilliant book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven R. Covey explains the concept that certain actions or activities are important, though not urgent. Estate planning falls into that category. Urgent things demand your attention right now, this instant-such as a phone ringing or a dinner burning. Estate planning is important and becomes urgent only when a life-threatening event such as a heart attack or accident occurs. But then it may be too late. The process of estate planning isn't nearly as painful or time consuming as most people fear.
Talk to your spouse. Organize your papers. Make any necessary phone calls. The estate planning process requires several weeks from initial consultation to signing. Start this important process today before it becomes urgent!
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