Fears of Estate Planning
I have found that many people have a certain amount of trepidation when it comes to undertaking their estate planning. Based upon my conversations with numerous clients, their fears generally fall into three main categories: 1. Their mortality; 2. The anticipated time and difficulty of estate planning; and 3. The cost. In reality, at the conclusion of the estate planning process, nearly every client comments how their fears were unfounded.
The fear of one’s own mortality is quite natural. Most of us do not want to die and have a healthy fear of actions which could increase the risk of death. Estate planning involves consideration of disposition of assets after one’s death, so it is natural to associate the planning with one’s own mortality. However, when considered logically, the act of estate planning does not increase the likelihood of death! I find that for some people it is easier when they focus on one of the primary reasons to do an estate plan, that is to help your loved ones who you leave behind by reducing the stress, decision-making and expenses that they would otherwise be forced to address.
A goodly number of people believe that the estate planning process will be difficult and time-consuming. Although very large or complicated estates may require more significant time and complexity, for the vast majority of individuals it is as simple as gathering a few key details (names, contact information, and general asset information) and making decisions regarding people you trust and who should receive what you leave behind. For most individuals, the time involved consists of a few hours in total, including gathering information, speaking with counsel, and reviewing and executing documents.
The third category of fear pertains to the anticipated expense. First, many estate planning attorneys offer a no charge consultation to discuss what planning is appropriate. During that initial consultation, fees are disclosed for the relevant planning prior to proceeding. Second, many estate planning attorneys charge a flat fee, so the cost is known before agreeing to any planning. Third, for most married couples, a comprehensive basic estate plan costs a little more than a thousand dollars (which includes Wills, Healthcare Directives and Financial Powers of Attorney). Fourth, although certain kinds of estate planning will cost a little more, you control the cost based upon the type of planning you select. Finally, when you weigh this cost against the potential savings (in estate taxes, administrative costs, avoidance of probate and hearings), it pays for itself many times over.
When I finish my clients’ estate planning they express how relieved they feel, how easy it was, and that their fears were unfounded. If you wish to consider your estate planning options, please contact me at (860) 659-0700 for a free initial consultation to discuss what makes sense for your situation.