Why most people don’t have a will or an estate plan

Most of us do not want to think about dying! We just don’t. As an attorney practicing Trusts and Estates, I’ve given this a great deal of thought. Some of my clients still don’t even have a simple will, much less an entire plan for their estate. This is despite my respectful amount of encouragement.

I believe there are many reasons why so many people put it off and often never get around to doing it.

Here are four reasons I think most of people avoid estate planning:

1. Not enough time in the day. 

In the fast paced times that we live in, not having the time is a seemingly reasonable explanation. However, there are certain things in life that we must take steps to finalize. One of those things is preparing a simple will. Of course, I strongly recommend an entire estate plan but it’s a reasonable first step to at least have a simple will. Two simple requirements of a will are naming the beneficiaries for your assets and appointing an executor for your will. Married people should not rest on the notion that their spouse will likely get everything. Family disputes often arise over items that are of sentimental value and it makes life much easier for everyone if you simply state who gets what. If you are single, then it is not clear to everyone who you would want to have your assets and items that were special to you. It really doesn’t take long. Set aside a small amount of time to have your will prepared.

2. No one wants to think about dying.
This is probably the most common reason people don't do some estate planning. There are not many of us who want to think about our own demise. It will certainly happen one day and the best thing to do is to take reasonable steps to prepare for the distribution of our assets. I strongly encourage everyone to take a small amount of time to considerwho you want your assets to go to; if you have children, who will raise them if you die while they are still minors; and who will handle the money that you leave for your minor children. If you are no longer here to care for your family you can make preparations for them.

3. Estate planning is not easily understood.
This is the reason for estate attorneys. Estate attorneys can demystify the estate planning process and explain the matters to clients in a way that makes it easy to understand. My job as an estate attorney is to educateyou about the process. Your estate may not be large and complicated, but if you have anything that you call your own, there is a reason for a will. 

4. The assets that you own are not significant in value.

Your car, your home, your jewelry, your collection of porcelain dolphins - everything you own, no matter how small or large in value - comprises your estate. If you don’t have a will or estate plan, the distribution of these assets could become complicated and stressful for the family and friends that you leave behind. However, taking a small amount of time to prepare your will and estate plan may give you peace of mind, and will assist in the distribution of your assets.

If you make the decision to prepare your will or plan for your estate, please allow me to demystify the process, educate you and assist you with the preparation of your will and estate plan.

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