A survey by Quest Research Group in the wake of COVID-19 wanted to see how prepared people would be if something were to happen to them. They asked 1,000 people how much planning they had done in the past, and if the pandemic encouraged them to start planning now.
Forbes’ June article titled “The Three Reasons People Avoid Estate Planning” cites a study that reveals that people do take action in creating their estate plan; however, it’s something people typically try to avoid. Why do people avoid it? The article narrows it down to the three most common excuses:
- I’m much too busy. I can barely keep up with my life as it is.
- It’s complicated and/or expensive.
- I’m just too superstitious. I’ll just jinx my life by thinking about death.
All of these excuses are followed by a sentiment such as “I know it’s something I should do” and “I’ll get around to it one day.” No matter how it’s said, people just don’t feel that it is urgent.
First, are those who are superstitious and think doing this somehow curse their life. However, people buy car seats for their children, and no one refuses to buy a car seat because they think it would make them more susceptible to an accident. Instead, you buy one because you’re a responsible adult who cares for your child.
The other two excuses are similar, because when people say that planning is a time consuming or expensive task, they’re automatically too busy or frugal to even consider taking on such a task. Then they do all that they can to procrastinate.
To address these excuses, here are some things you can do right now at little or no expense that can help your family if there is an emergency. It will also make you feel more responsible for your life, in the same way parents do when they purchase car seats.
Password Sharing. Passwords are the keys to modern estate planning. To have access to your accounts in the event of an emergency, someone you trust should have access to your passwords. There are password managers, like Dashlane or LastPass, which coordinate all your passwords, so you only have to remember one. You can later share it.
Draft a Medical Directive. This document instructs your family what you want done in a medical emergency (Living Will) and who should speak on your behalf if you’re unable to communicate (Health Care Proxy). These make up an Advance Directive.
Create a Will and a Power of Attorney. A will is the document that instructs your executor how to distribute your assets. A will also names a guardian for any minor children. A Power of Attorney (POA) is like a Health Care Proxy for your money and lets an agent make financial and legal decisions on your behalf when you are unable to yourself.
Ask an experienced estate planning attorney to help you create these to avoid any issues down the road.
Reference: Forbes (June 24, 2020) “The Three Reasons People Avoid Estate Planning”