We often talk about estate planning as a gift to our loved ones. By creating a plan in advance, we help our friends and family members manage the stressful and painful time just after our passing when they need to step up to get our “affairs in order.” We talk about estate planning as a kindness to our families, by highlighting all of the ways in which a careful plan can make all the difference.
Kindness Only Goes So Far
So, how do we square this interest in protecting our loved ones with the fact that more than half of Americans don’t have any estate plan in place, and only a small percentage have a comprehensive plan? Here’s the unpleasant secret: people would rather save money in their pockets today than save far more money for their children in the future. We’ve explained this break down in other articles, but here’s a recap:
Pay to get an estate plan created today that will keep your stuff out of probate and your loved ones out of court or keep your money now, only to have your heirs have to fork it over for attorney’s fees, court costs, appraisals, etc. Those down-the-road probate costs? They will be multiple times what you would pay today for an estate plan plus your family members will have to go to court, hire an attorney to navigate the whole process, and spend countless stressful hours trying to discern what you would have wanted.
The Harsh Reality
Still, less than half of Americans have plans in place. Why? To save some money now. It’s a fair instinct, we get it. Not to mention, you won’t be around to suffer through the whole messy process, so it can be hard to imagine that day will ever come. But, you truly have to be able to see this in the longer term. Tough talk time: You will eventually pass away. Without a plan in place, your estate will go through the court system according to state law. Your family and friends will have to deal with picking up the pieces. That’s just the reality of the situation.
“It’s just not a good time.”
As estate planning attorneys, we’ve heard every excuse in the book for why people don’t think they need an estate plan right now.
- Estate planning is too expensive.
- I don’t have my life in order yet.
- I’m just too busy.
- I don’t own that much, what’s the point of preserving it?
- Everyone goes through probate, it won’t be that bad. I’m sure my family will be fine.
- I’ve heard that trusts are just a lawyer’s way to make more money, better steer clear of the whole process.
- My family is smart and everyone gets along well, I’m sure they can figure it out.
Any of those excuses remind you of someone? Read them through again. If you read carefully, you will notice that none of them are that great of reasons to avoid making a plan. That’s because the alternative to making a plan is your loved ones going through this process without one. There isn’t an outcome where your heirs get to just skip this process — that is, unless you do the leg work for them.
They Say an Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what your plan is. What matters is that you have one. At Brian M. Douglas & Associates, we don’t try to push you into an estate plan that you don’t need. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Our mission is to tailor estate plans to suit the individual needs of each person who walks into our office. That means, if you don’t need a particular aspect of an estate plan, we won’t recommend it. If your goals or circumstances let us know that you do need a particular element of a comprehensive plan, we’ll let you know. Sure, there may be a little pain around paying for a plan out of pocket now rather than letting your family foot the bill after you’re gone, but we’ve softened the blow for you a little. If you reach out to us this week to set up an in-office consultation and mention this blog post, we will waive the $450 meeting fee! How does that sound? In this meeting, one of our experienced, compassionate attorneys will meet with you, get to know you, your goals, and your situation. Then, we’ll give you our honest advice about what we think you need. After that, the ball is in your court. If you want to move forward to get a plan done, we are here for you! So, give Brian M. Douglas & Associates a call at (770) 933-9009 to set up your appointment.