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Estate Planning is a Process, Not a One-Time Event

DownloadEstate planning requires clients to prepare for a future they won't be here to see. That idea can be disconcerting, so it's no surprise that advisors say the largest obstacles to successful estate planning revolve around clients' anxieties about what the world will be like without them. Those fears can lead to procrastination, indecision and inattention. "The first barrier we run into is people ignoring doing estate planning at all," says advisor Stewart Welch, founder of the Welch Group in Birmingham, Ala. "They don't have a will, or it's 15 years old – they just don't do anything."

According to an article on financial-planning.com, “3 Biggest Barriers to Successful Estate Planning,” there are major obstacles that some folks face when they think about estate planning. I can sum it up in two words: “Get Going!” Talk to your estate planning attorney now—don’t put it off.

1. Procrastination. Fear is a major contributor to procrastination. You know, dealing with your own mortality… who likes to think about that? We’re always too busy, and there’s always something better to do, like clean the garage or organize your sock drawer. It’s easier to let that fear of our mortality grow than to face it.

2. Indecision. Some folks put off doing anything because they are riddled with indecision. There are too many decisions to make, so it’s easier to not make any. Sometimes people get hung up on selecting a guardian for their minor children. Because they can’t choose one, they don’t do anything else in their estate planning. Another example is the person who is so worried about giving money to her kids. Because she knows they can’t handle it, she makes no plans at all!

3. Inattention. Outdated plans are a major problem in estate planning. If folks don't review their documents and update them when necessary, their estate plans become obsolete. The complexity of the subject, the constantly changing tax laws, and "estate planning fatigue" can contribute to frustration and anxiety, which causes people to avoid taking any action or to procrastinate.

Your estate planning attorney can give you an annual analysis of your total assets available for heirs. You can then re-examine how much you want to give to your heirs. Think of it not as making lifelong decisions, but as making decisions twelve months at a time. Look at it as re-comforting yourself every twelve months, and you can feel better knowing you’re doing OK.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: financial-planning.com (August 8, 2015) “3 Biggest Barriers to Successful Estate Planning”

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